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to the memory of 


Library of Congress C at aloging-in -Publication Data 

1904 - 1985 

(Revised for vol. 3) 

a great classicist who maintained a 

Boycc, Mary. 

constant interest in Iranian matters, 

A History of Zoroastrianism. 

Handbuch der Orientalisdlc. Ersler Abteilung, Der 

and to whose brilliant researches 

Nahc und der Mittlcre Osten, ISSN 0169-9423; 3. Bd., 

the present volume owes much 

Religion, 1. Abschnitt, Religions gesthichte des alien 

Orients, Lfg. 2. 

Reprint. Originally published: Leiden: Brill, 


Vol. 3 by Mary Boyce and Frantz Grenet. 


Includes bibliographical references and indexes. 

Content: v. 1. The early period - -- v. 3. 

Zoroastrianism under Macedonian and Roman rule. 

1. Zoroastrianism — History, I. Grenel, Frantz, 

II. Series: Handbuch der Oriental is tik. Ersle Abteilung, 

Nahe und der Mittlere Osten; 8. Bd., 1. Abschnitt, 


Lfg. 2. 

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Foreword . ix 

Abbreviations xii 

Maps and a temple plan , xv 

Part one 

I. Under Alexander and the Successors 3 

II. The Seleucids: a background sketch 23 

III. On the western edge of the Iranian plateau: Susa and 
Elymais , 35 

Part Two 

IV. Zoroastrianism and Hellenism: a general survey 51 

V. In western Iran: Media Atropatene, Greater Media 

and Persis * 69 

VI. In the Indo-Iranian borderlands: Arachosia and 

Gandhara, with a note on Kuh-i Khwaja in Drangiana 125 
VII. In eastern Iran: the time of the Greek kingdoms 

(c. 250-50 B.C.) 152 

Part Three 


VIII. In western Asia Minor: Lydia with Caria and 

south-west Phrygia 197 

IX. In central and eastern Asia Minor: Greater Phrygia 

with Galatia, Cappadocia and Pontus, Cilicia 254 

X. In Commagene, Syria and Egypt 309 

XI. Zoroastrian contributions to eastern Mediterranean 

religion and thought in Greco-Roman times 361 



Thus spake not Zarathustra: Zoroastrian- 

pseudepigrapha of the Greco-Roman world 491 

Select bibliography 555 

Index 573 


The downfall of the Achaemenian empire led to most Zoroast- 
rians coming under Macedonian rule, and, when that empire was 
eventually split up, to the community being divided among sepa- 
rate kingdoms. For Iran itself Seleucid dominion lasted in its 
western regions until the triumph of the Arsacids, dated here to the 
victory by Phraates II over Antiochus VII in 129 B.C. To the west, 
descendants of Iranian colonists maintained their ancestral faith 
first under Hellenes and then under Romans; and the attempt is 
made in this volume to trace the history of Zoroastrianism there 
until it almost entirely disappeared from view in the fourth century 
A.C. To the east, Zoroastrians of the Indo-Iranian borderlands 
came under Mauryan domination, and in the Greco- Bactrian 
kingdoms they contributed to a mixed culture. Only here and there 
— in parts of Asia Minor until Roman imperial times, and in Media 
Atropatene uninterruptedly — did relatively small groups of Zor- 
oastrians continue to be ruled by co-religionists. 

The period of Zoroastrian history considered here is thus a long 
one, from the fourth century B.C. to the fourth century A.C; and 
the areas concerned are large, the sources scattered and in the main 
meagre. The few literary texts are, however, being increasingly 
supplemented by archaeological finds from both within Iran and 
beyond its modern borders. Soviet excavations are being particu- 
larly productive; and in order to make full use of recent discoveries 
in Soviet Central Asia I invited Frantz Grenet to join me in writing 
this volume. He is the author of Ch.III: "On the western edge of 
the Iranian plateau: Susa and Elymais" (because the "high places" 
of Elam are of especial comparative interest for him), and of 
Ch.VII: "In eastern Iran: the Greek kingdoms'*; but his contribu- 
tion to the volume goes far beyond this. We have discussed from the 
beginning its scope and content, and he has read all of it in draft, 
making learned and judicious comments. The most important of 
these are acknowledged in footnotes with the attribution "F. G.". 
With regard to the conclusions reached here, we have found 
ourselves in the main in harmonious agreement; but on occasion 
(as is indicated in the notes) we have differed, and each retains the 
final responsibility for the contents of his or her own chapters. 

Pursuing the history of Zoroastrianism in the Greco-Roman 




world leads inevitably to the problem of the Zoroastrian pseudepi- 
grapha; and on the advice of my friend John Hinnells I approached 
the distinguished Mithraist, Roger Beck, with an invitation to 
contribute an Excursus on this difficult subject. This he very kindly 
agreed to do, having, he said, some hope that a thorough investiga- 
tion of the texts concerned might shed some new light on the 
Mithraic Mysteries, if not on Zoroastrianism itself. As his admir- 
ably lucid study shows, neither hope was realised; but he has 
cleared up much confusion in this complex field, and his analysis 
both frees the history of Zoroastrianism from some long-held 
misconceptions, and increases understanding of how the Greeks 
thought of Zoroaster and of the magi. 

The wide geographical range of the volume, and the occurrence 
in it of a number of not generally well-known place-names, made 
the provision of maps desirable; and these have been prepared by 
Guy Lecuyot, in consulation with Frantz Grenet. There is also one 
plan, of an important temple excavated by Soviet archaeologists, 
whose own publication of it is not yet readily accessible to most 
scholars. With regard to the spellings of western proper and place 
names, Latin forms have generally been given preference over 
Greek. As for Zoroastrian names and terms, the only possible 
method of standardization seemed to be the use of Avestan forms 
throughout — e.g. Ahura Mazda, Mithra, baresman — since the 
Middle Iranian languages, when known, differ in their forms from 
east to west, and undergo marked changes over this long period. 
Length marks over vowels are in general given only in the index, 
except in citations from texts (where alone the standard conven- 
tions for transcribing Avestan or Middle Iranian are fully used). 
Similarly, as in Vol. II, those letters of the Avestan alphabet which 
in strict transliteration are rendered by special sorts (e.g. £, t}) are 
represented in the text by the phonetically approximate letters of 
the Roman alphabet (e.g. e, n), hence Anra Mainyu, Fraso-kereti. 

By the nature of its contents this volume has demanded the 
collaboration of Iranists and classicists, and we are deeply indebted 
to Paul Bernard and Pierre Ghuvin for the generosity with which 
they have found time to read certain chapters in draft and to make 
most valuable comments and criticisms. Their learning and incom- 
parable knowledge of the Hellenistic field, especially for Central 
Asia and Anatolia, have hugely benefited the work. 

For other chapters we owe warm thanks to other friends and 
colleagues: for western Iran to Peter Galmeyer and Dietrich Huff 
(who was most generous in sending the writer copies of then 
unpublished works of his own); for eastern Iran> among the 

numerous Soviet scholars who have aided Frantz Grenet, to 
Boris Litvinskij, Igor Pichikyan and Boris Marshak. Grateful 
acknowledgements to other scholars are made in footnotes through- 
out the volume. The writer herself is, as for the two previous 
volumes, indebted to her friend and colleague David Bivar for 
much aid in numismatic and archaeological matters. She is also 
especially grateful to Doris Johnson, former editorial secretary of 
the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, for 
continual help in the actual procuring of books and articles. Fi- 
nally, we are much beholden to Jacques and Marcelle Duchesne- 
Guillemin for their kindness in sparing time to read first proofs of 
the whole volume. This was a task lightened for all concerned by 
the very high standard of printing. 

The volume, like the History as a whole, has grown beyond 
expectation, because of the amount of data to be considered and the 
need, for their proper understanding, to set these in their local and 
historical contexts. We are accordingly indebted to the late Profes- 
sor B. Spuler, as the general editor of this section of the Hand buch, 
and to Brill's, for allowing it to extend to what seemed the neces- 
sary length. They have also agreed that the next volume, to be 
entitled "Zoroastrianism under the Arsacids and early Sasanians", 
should form a companion one to this, in that it is planned to cover 
almost the same period of time, but with the focus on Iran itself 
(with Armenia and Babylonia). It is hoped that its preparation will 
prove easier for Iranists, and so require fewer years. 

Mary Boyce 


[Note: cross- references are to the names of authors, editors or translators given in 
the bibliography, under which details of the work concerned appear. Since there 
are different systems for transcribing Pahlavi, the titles of Pahlavi texts may differ 
slightly there from the forms given below.] 




Abstr. Ir. 

Acta Ir. 

Acta Or. 


Air. Wb. 




Annates, E.S.C. 














Bull, ep. 


CH India 









Archaologischer Anzeiger 

Acta Antiqua Acaderruae Scientiarum Hungaricae 


Abstracta Iranica 

Acta Iranica 

Acta Orientalia 

The Avestan Hymn to Mithra, see I. Gershevitch 

Altiranisches Worterbuch, see C. Bartholomae 

Ayadgar I Jamaspig, see G. Messina 

American Journal of Anthropology 

Archaologische Mitteilungen aus Iran 

Annales - Economies, Societes, Civilisations 

Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt, ed. H. 

Temporini and W. Haase, Berlin-New York 

American Numismatic Society 

The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old 

Testament in English, see R. H. Charles 

Anatolian Studies 


Arda Viraz Namag, see P. Gignoux 

Antike Welt 

Bulletin of the Asia Institute 

Baghdader Mitteilungen 

Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental 


Bulletin de correspond an ce hellenique 

J. Bidez and F. Cumont, Les mages hellenises, secj. 


Bulletin de PEcole francaise d'Extreme Orient 

British Museum Coin Catalogue 

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 

Bulletin epigraphique 

The Cambridge Ancient History 

The Cambridge History of India 

The Cambridge History of Iran 

The Cambridge History of Judaism 

Corpus Inscriptionum et Monumentorum Religionis 

Mithriacae, see M. J. Vermaseren 

Comptes rendus de PAcademie des Inscriptions et 


Delegation archeologique francaise en Afghanistan 

Delegation archeologique franchise en Iran 

Denkschrift Wiener Akademie 

Dadestan I denig, see E- W. West 







Enc. Brit. 

Enc. Jud. 

Ep. Manuscihr 



£t. mithriaques 












Ind. Bd. 
Ir. Ant. 
1st. Mitt. 



Jewish Enc. 















Denkard, ed. D. M. Madan, Bombay 1911 
Encyclopaedia of Islam 
Encyclopaedia Iranica 

Etudes sur les mys teres de Mithras, see S. Wikander 
Encyclopaedia Britannica 
Encyclopaedia Judaica 
Epistles of Manuscihr, see E. W. West 
Etudes preliminaires aux religions orientales dans 
l'empire romain 

Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. J. Hastings 
Etudes mithriaques, see J. Duchesne-Guillemin 
East and West 

Standardized title for repeatedly cited presentation 
volumes, see in bibliography under the name of the 
scholar honoured 

Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, ed. F. Jacoby, 
Berlin-Leiden, 1922-1958 
Greater Bundahisn, see B. T. Anklesaria 
Handbuch der Orientalisuk 
History of Religions 
Harvard Theological Review 
Hebrew Union College Annual 
The first two volumes of this history, published in 
1975 (reprinted with corrections, 1989) "The early 
period , and 1982, "Under the Achaemenians" 
The planned next volume of this history, "Under the 
Arsacids and early Sasanians" 
Indo-Iranian Journal 
Indian Bundahisn, see E. W. West 
Israel Oriental Studies 
Iranica Antiqua 

Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente 
Istanbuler Mitteilungen 
Journal asiatique 

Journal of the American Oriental Society 
Journal of the K. R. Cams Institute (Bombay) 
Jahrbuch des deutschen archaologisehen Instituts 
Journal des Savants 
The Jewish Encyclopaedia 
Journal of Hellenic Studies 
Journal of Jewish Studies 
Journal of Near Eastern Studies 
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 
Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 
Journal of Roman Studies 

Zeitschrift fur vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem 
Gebiete der Indogermanischen Sprachen, begrundet 
von A. Kuhn (now renamed Historische Sprachfor- 

Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua 
Middle Persian 

Munchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 
Mithraic Studies, see J. R. Hinnells 
Menog i Xrad, see E. W. West 
Numismatic Chronicle 


NHL The Nag Hammadi Library in English, see J. M. 

OGIS Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae 

OLZ Orientalische Literaturzeitung 

ONU Obscestvennye Nauki v Uzbekistane (Tashkent) 

OP Old Persian 

OTP The Old Testament Pseud epigrapha, Vol. I, seej. H. 

Charles worth 
OTP II Idem., second volume 

Pahl. Pahlavi 

PRDd. Pahlavi Rivayat accompanying the Dadestan i denig, 

see B. N. Dhabhar, A. V. Williams 
PW Realencyclopadie der classischen Al ter turns wissen- 

schaft, ed. by A. F. von Pauly, G. Wissowa and others 
RA Revue archeologique 

REG Revue des etudes grecques 

Rev. epigr. Revue epigraphique 

Rev. Suisse de num. Revue Suisse de numismatique 

RHR Revue de I'histoire des religions 

RN Revue numismatique 

SA Sovetskaja Arxeologija 

SAS South Asian Studies 

Sb. Sitzungsberichte 

SBE Sacred Books of the East, ed. Max Muller 

Skt Sanskrit 

Sources Textual sources for the study of Zoroastrianism, see M. 

Boyce Studia Iranica 

TLZ Theologische Literaturzeitung 

TMMM Textes et monuments figures relatifs aux mysteres de 

Mithra, see F. Cumont 
Tr. XA£E Trudy Xorezmskoj Arxeologo-Etnograflceskoj tkspe- 

Vd Vendidad 

VDI Vestnik Drevnej Istorii 

\T Vetus Testamentum 

WZKM Wiener Zeitschrift fiir die Kunde des Morgenlandes 

Y Yasna 

Yt Yast 

Zadspram Wizidagiha 1 Zadspram, see B. T. Anklesaria 

ZDMG Zeitschrift der deucschen morgenlandischen Gesell- 

ZPE Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik 

ZVYt Zand i Vahman YaSt, see B. T. Anklesaria 

ZXA Zand i Xwurdag Abestag, see B. "N. Dhabhar 



400 Km 

Map II. Western Iran with bordering lands, 

Map III. Eastern Iran with bordering lands. 

Plan of the Takht-i Sangin temple (adapted from International Association for 
the Study of the Cultures of Central Asia, Information Bulletin 12, p. 48 fig. 1), 



During the conquest 

The previous volume ended in 330 B.C. with Alexander at 
Ecbatana, disbanding his confederate troops and preparing to 
march east, a conqueror in his own right, in pursuit of Darius. In 
accounts of his earlier campaigns there had been only occasional 
references to matters concerning the religion of his Iranian foes: a 
description of the Persian army marching out to the battle of Issus, 
with sacred fire carried by magi in the van, followed by the empty 
chariot devoted to Ahuramazda and the riderless horse of Mithra; 
an account of Darius' exhortations to his soldiers before Gau- 
gamela, with invocations of Mithra, the Sun and fire; a reference to 
magi preceding the Chaldean priests in the great procession which 
came out to surrender Babylon to the Macedonian; and mention of 
a family group of magi who for some two hundred years had 
maintained religious rites at the tomb of Cyrus. 1 Except for the last, 
given by Arrian on the authority of Aristobulus, these allusions are 
all supplied by Quintus Curtius; and meagre though they are, they 
are in accord either with known Zoroastrian beliefs and practices, 2 
or with deducible historical reality (i.e. a strong Zoroastrian pres- 
ence in fourth-century Babylon), and appear accordingly to derive 
from accurate sources. 3 

Such allusions are hardly more abundant in the surviving ac- 
counts of Alexander's eastern campaigns, in which the first event 
memorable for the whole of Iran was the death of Darius: deposed 
as he fled by Bessus, satrap of Bactria, and then, a prisoner, 
wounded and left to die rather than be allowed to fall alive into the 

1 See HZ II 286-8, 289, 70-1 for references. 

2 See ibid. 

3 On the trustworthiness of Curtius see M, Renard et J. Servais, "A propos du 
mariage d' Alexandre et de Roxane", L'antiquite classique, 24, 1955, 29-50; P. A. 
Brunt, "Persian accounts of Alexander's campaigns", Classical Quarterly, n.s. 12, 
1962, 141-55; A. B. Bosworth, A historical commentary on Arrian's "History of 
Alexander", I, Oxford 1980, and idem, "A missing year in the history of Alexan- 
der the Great", JHS 101, 1981, 17-39; N. G. L. Hammond, Three historians of 
Alexander the Great, Cambridge University Press, 1983. 


hands of Alexander . At this a number of "the most highly placed 
Persian officers of Darius", came to Alexander's camp and gave 
themselves up, to be followed soon after by Artabazus, formerly 
satrap of Dascylium, an old man with much influence' who had 
remained with Darius till near his end. 4 Alexander, able now to 
play the politically useful part of Darius' avenger, received these 
nobles generously; and some transferred to him, as the new king by 
right of conquest, the fidelity which they had formerly owed the 
dead Achaemenian. Among these was Artabazus himself, whom 
Alexander appointed to a succession of high offices; Phrataphernes, 
formerly satrap of Parthia, who in due course received back his 
satrapy; 5 and Atropates, formerly satrap of Media, 6 who was to 
play a not insignificant part in Zoroastrian history. When he joined 
Alexander his satrapy had already been given to one Oxodates, an 
Iranian "who had been arrested by Darius and imprisoned at Susa; 
this caused Alexander to rely upon him"; 7 but while the Macedo- 
nian was in eastern Iran he "heard that Oxodates had ill-will 
against himself", and so despatched Atropates to take over his old 
satrapy again in his place. 8 

Iran was thus not only largely subjugated, but her traditional 
leaders were divided among themselves, with some great nobles 
already serving Alexander, others still bent on resisting him under 
the leadership of Bessus, who, himself of Achaemenian blood, had 
taken the title of king in succession to Darius. The subsequent 
campaigns in eastern Iran were hard fought and conducted with 
calculated savagery on the Macedonian side. Amid the grim ac- 
counts given by Alexander's chroniclers of wholesale massacres 
and enslavements, crucifixions, burning and pillaging, 9 Curtius 
again provides a few scraps of religious interest, though one or two 
may be no more than fictional embellishments of his narrative. 
Thus in telling of the plot hatched against Alexander by fellow 
Macedonians at the capital of Drangiana (Seistan), Curtius says 
that one conspirator led another, for privacy, into a holy place, 

4 Arrian III.23.4.6. 
tti oo n Bd b ee " briefl V he,d b y another Iranian appointed by Alexander (ib., 

IhVnk 'ri 1 ! > 7 d , 1Sa P p 1 ea ^ T V' Uh0lJt traCe " ° n Phrataphernes cf. Arrian III.8.4, 
HA, Zo.Z; IV. 7. 1. 18.1: VII 6 4 

6 Ib. : III. 8.4. 

7 lb., III. 20.3; Curtius VII.ii.ll. Although Curtius calls Oxodates a Persian 
the name appears to be characteristically Bactrian, see F. Grenet, BCH CVII* 
1983, 378 and below, p ' ' 

8 Arrian IV.18.3. 

xi2^-"' eg " ib " IV ' 2 " 4 ^ 6 ' 5; CurtIUS VLiv * 28 - 32 ; VII.vU0 : 16; ix.22; 


where he "took oath by the gods in whose temple they were'\ 10 If 
such a temple really existed, it is possible, in this Achaemenian 
provincial capital, that it was a Zoroastrian one, though this is by 
no means certain." Thereafter, when Alexander had marched 
north again against Bessus, the latter, according to Curtius, 
"greatly terrified by Alexander's speed, . . . duly performed a sac- 
rifice to the gods of the country, as is the custom with those 
nations", 12 and then held a feast which was also a council of war. 
At this feast was one Gobares, "a Mede by nationality", better 
known, reports Curtius, for his claim to the knowledge of the magi 
than for any real skill in their art, "but in other respects modest and 
upright". He proferred temperate advice, couched very much in 
the terms of Zoroastrian wisdom [handarz) literature; but this 
merely infuriated Bessus, and Gobares, barely escaping with his 
life, fled to Alexander's camp, an act which won his story a place in 
the conqueror's annals. 13 Subsequently, when Bessus was betrayed 
to Alexander by his own comrades-in-arms, Curtius has him saying 
that "the gods had come as avengers of his crime", that is, against 
Darius, adding that "they had not been unfavourable to Darius, 
whom they thus avenged, but propitious to Alexander, since even 
his enemies always aided his victory". 14 This wry remark has a 
touch of authenticity. Alexander, Curtius records, 15 had Bessus 
cruelly mutilated and then handed over to Oxathres, Darius' own 
brother, with orders that he should be crucified and pierced with 
arrows, and that carrion-eating birds should be kept away from his 
corpse. The purpose of this last order (if Curtius' account is 
accurate) may simply have been to preserve the body longer as 
witness to the harsh punishment of a regicide; but perhaps, it has 
been suggested, 16 it had an even grimmer aim, nameiy to deprive 
Bessus of that swift end to bodily corruption which is prized by 
Zoroastrians, an added cruelty which would have increased the 
horror of his death for other would-be resisters among the Iranians. 
According to Arrian, however, after having him mutilated, Alexan- 
der sent Bessus to Ecbatana, to be "put to death in the full 
gathering of Medes and Persians"." 

10 Curtius VI.vii.5. 

11 See further below, p. xxx. 

12 Curtius Vll.iv.i. 

13 lb., VII.iv.8-19 (the mss. having "Cobares"V, cf. Diodorus XVII.83. 

14 Curtius VII.v.25. 

15 lb., VII.v.36-43. 

16 P. Bernard, "Fouilles d'Ai Khanoum en 1976-1977", CRAI 91, 1978, 

'' Arrian IV. 7.4. 


A curious statement about general practices in connection with 
death among eastern Iranians survives on the dubious authority of 
Onesicritus, a Macedonian who campaigned with Alexander and 
diverted his contemporaries thereafter with colourful and it seems 
largely fictive accounts of the adventures he experienced and the 
sights he saw. 18 Strabo, who cites him from time to time for 
digressions from his own sober narrative, quotes certain observa- 
tions by him on two eastern Iranian peoples. l 'Now in early times" 
(Strabo writes) "the Sogdians and Bactrians did not differ much 
from the [Iranian] nomads in their modes of life and customs, 
although the Bactrians were a little more civilized; however, of 
these, as of the others, Onesicritus does not report their best traits, 
saying, for instance, that those who had become helpless because of 
old age or sickness are thrown out alive as prey to dogs kept 
expressly for this purpose, which in their native tongue are called 
"undertakers" {entapkiastai) , and that while the land outside the 
walls of the metropolis of the Bactrians looks clean, yet most of the 
land inside the walls is full of human bones; but that Alexander 
broke up the custom." 19 This remarkable statement has come 
under criticism from classicist and orientalist alike; 20 and one of the 
latter has written trenchantly concerning it, pointing out that the 
city of Bactra (modern Balkh), far from being a backward or 
primitive place, had by the time of the Macedonian conquest been 
for over two hundred years the administrative centre of a rich and 
important province of the Achaemenian Empire. 21 As such it was 
linked by the admirable Persian network of highways with other 
great cities of the empire. Its satrap was usually, if not always, a 
Persian of royal blood, like Bessus, and would have had his own 
court with its Persian nobles and attendants. There would have 
been cantonments for troops in the town, and its own citizens are 
likely to have numbered among themselves wealthy merchants and 
members of the local aristocracy. Regular visits of inspection would 
have been paid moreover by the Great King's own officials. 
Further, Bactria had long been a Zoroastrian land, probably for 
centuries before the faith reached western Iran, and it was indeed 
one of the regions to lay legendary claim to being the birthplace of 
the prophet and the scene of his ministry.' 22 Its importance in the 

18 For some of Onesicritus' tall stories see W. B. Henning, Zoroaster, politician 
or witch doctor?, 22. 

19 Strabo XI.l 1.3. 

20 Notably Tarn, Alexander, II 35; id., GBI, 113-16; Henning-, o.c, ; pp. 21-3. 
31 Henning, loc. cit. 

' n See Jackson, Zoroaster, 199-201, and below, p. 155 with n. 12. 


religious community in Achaemenian days had been acknowledged 
by Artaxerxes II when he established one of his "Anahit" shrines 
in Bactra itself; 23 and generations after Alexander's conquest the 
Kushans, invading from the steppes, learnt in Bactria to venerate 
Zoroastrian divinities. There is no question therefore but that the 
Bactra which the Macedonians took was a Zoroastrian city; and it 
is unthinkable that in any Zoroastrian community there should 
have been a practice of allowing the old or sick to be eaten alive by 
dogs. Given the humanitarian principles of the faith, and the care 
which these inculcate for one's fellow men (and especially, of 
course, one's fellow believers) this point does not need labouring; 
but if argument is to be looked for, there is the precise doctrinal 
consideration that in Zoroastrianism death is seen as an affliction 
brought by Anra Mainyu, the Evil Spirit; and to hasten it would be 
to aid him and so to burden one's soul with sin. 24 

Onesicritus' story had presumably, however, some "weak basis 
in reality". 25 Almost a millennium later the Chinese traveller Wei 
Chieh recorded that in the seventh century A.C. at Samarkand in 
neighbouring Sogdia dogs were bred for the purpose of devouring 
the dead (which animals might conceivably have been called by 
some name equivalent to Onesicritus' "undertakers" or "entom- 
bers"). These dogs, Wei Chieh said, were kept in an isolated place, 
far from habitations, which had its own enclosures and professional 
attendants; and the bones were eventually buried. 26 Further, 
Cicero stated 27 that in Hyrcania dogs were kept to devour the dead. 
He gave his authority as Chrysippus, who is thought to have 
depended on Eudemus of Rhodes. His factual observation thus 
goes back to the same period as Onesicritus' grisly fantasy. 

23 Cf. HZ II 217. 

2 * F. G. remains nevertheless inclined to accept Onesicritus' story, especially 
because this is apparently corroborated by Porphyrias (see below). Against 
Henning's arguments of the civilized state of Achaemenian Bactria, he urges that 
the integration of Bactria into the Achaemenian empire seems hardly to have 
affected the local culture materially (see Ch. 7, below), and so may have had little 
effect on it in other ways. — For a time there seemed further corroboration of 
Onesicritus' story in the discovery thai at Ai Khanum the unusually large theatre 
had at some stage been filled with human bones; but it now seems likely that this 
was the result not of slow accumulation but a single massacre (see below, p. 190 n. 
159). F. G. also cites the statement by Agathias (II. 25.4-5) that in the Sasanian 
army soldiers who fell gravely ill were left behind with bread, water and a stick to 
defend themselves, to live or die as fate decreed; but this is of a different character 
from Onesicritus' wild tale, harsh though this practice too may seem. 

25 Henning, o.c, p. 22 {citing Tarn's conclusions, GBI, 115-16). 

26 See E. Ghavannes, Documents sur les Tou Kiue (Turcs) occidentaux, Paris 
1941, 133 n. 5. 

27 Tusc. Disput. 1.45.108 (see further Boyce, EIr. V s.v. "corpse"). 


In evolving this fantasy the Macedonian appears to have linked 
Sogdians and Bactrians (who produced notable horsemen) with 
nomads of the steppes; and the other element in the genesis of his 
story may therefore have been reports of harsh customs among 
these nomads of abandoning the old and sick (when at war or 
otherwise hard pressed) — customs which he confused with some 
half-understood explanation of the Zoroastrian funerary rite and 
then garbled into a gratifyingly horrid traveller's tale. The startling 
and macabre quality of this tale seems, with Strabo's help, to have 
gained it wide currency; and it probably underlies both a claim put 
forward by Plutarch for Alexander, that he "persuaded the Sog- 
dians to support their parents, not kill them" 28 , and a statement 
made by Porphyrins in the third century A.G.: "And the Bactrians 
expose their old people alive to the voracity of dogs. For having 
tried to oppose himself to it, Stasanor the hipparchus was nearly 
driven out." 29 The latter sentence, with its circumstantial detail, 
undoubtedly appears to corroborate Onesicritus' tale; but it seems 
more likely that Stasanor had in fact simply tried to put an end to 
the Zoroastrian rite of exposure, this being in itself wholly repug- 
nant to Hellenes, who saw in it disrespect for the dead and a cutting 
off of the departed spirit from any haven in the hereafter. That he 
should have aroused deep local resentment by trying to end a 
long-established and doctrinally well-based funerary custom was to 
be expected; and the existence of Onesicritus' well-known story 
could easily have led to the goal of his efforts being later misinter- 
preted by other Hellenes, 

Another custom peculiar to the Zoroastrians was that ofkkvaetva- 
datha^ or close next-of-kin marriage; 30 and Gurtius preserves a 
factual report of an instance of this, observing that Sisimithres, 
governor of the district of Nautaca in Sogdia, had two sons by his 
own mother who was also his wedded wife, "for among those 
people it is lawful for parents to cohabit with their children". 31 
Plutarch also alludes to the custom at this time, claiming (evidently 
with little foundation) that Alexander suppressed it, teaching the 
Persians to "revere their mothers and not to take them in 
wedlock". 32 

28 Of Alexander's fortune, 1.5 (328 C). 

29 Of Abstinence, IV.2I. 

For instances in the Achaemenian period see HZ II, index s.v. 

31 VIII.ii.19 (cf, 28). Nautaka has been identified as a site near Shahr-i sabz in 
S. Uzbekistan (ancient Sogdia), see E. V. Rtveladze, "Ksenippa, Paretaia'* in B. 
A. Litvinskij (ed.), Kavkaz i Srednjaja Azija drevnosti i srednevekov'e, Moscow 
1981, 95-101 (reviewed by Bernard, Abstr.Ir. V, 1982, no. 175). 

33 L.c. in n. 28. 


During the aftermath of Alexander's conquests 

This is the meagre sum of information with any religious connec- 
tion to be found in the extant chronicles of Alexander's eastern 
Iranian campaigns. Later, on his return from India, after he had 
conquered the furthermost Achaemenian satrapies, come accounts 
of ruthless misconduct by some of those whom he had left behind in 
authority in Iran; and amid reports of extortion, rape and killings 
there is mention of plundering of temples and rifling of ancient 
tombs. 33 Among the latter was the tomb of Gyrus at Pasargadae, 
ransacked of all but the coffin itself and a stand. 34 According to 
Arrian Alexander, who punished with the utmost severity all 
officials accused of misconduct, as well as their henchmen, had the 
magi attendant at the tomb tortured to reveal what they knew of 
this crime; but their innocence and ignorance were so plain that in 
the end he released them. 35 To these humble chantry priests one 
group of Hellenes was doubtless like another, violent and terrifying 
strangers; and the likelihood is moreover that, totally defenceless, 
they had fled for their lives at the robbers' approach, to hide in the 
neighbouring groves. 

It was at this stage that Alexander appointed one of his own close 
companions, Peucestas, to be satrap of Persis. Peucestas, alone of 
the Macedonians, had already taken to an oriental way of life and 
so "was not unsuited to the Persians. And of this he gave proof. . . 
by adopting . . . the Median dress and learning the Persian lan- 
guage, and in all other respects assimilating himself to the Persian 
ways . . . and the Persians were gratified that he preferred their 
ways to those of his own country". 36 He, presumably, had many 
dealings with Persian magi; but the only mention of magi at this 
stage of Alexander's own activities is at Opis, where the king 
sought to placate his Macedonians and to reconcile them with the 
Iranians who were by then serving in his army. It is again Arrian's 

33 Cunius X.i.3-4; Arrian VI. 27.4, 6; 30, 2; VII.4.2. E. Badian, CHIr. II 476 
E, discounts these reports, seeing the so-called punishments meted out by Alexan- 
der for alleged offences as being part of a baseless reign of terror indulged in by 
him to compensate for his failure in the Gedrosian desert; but some of the evidence 
for oppression and misconduct in Iran during his Indian campaigns is detailed 
and appears convincing. 

34 Arrian VI. 29.9; differently, and evidently rather less accurately. Curtius 
X.i.30 ff 

35 Arrian, Ix. 

36 lb., VI.30.2; d. VII.6.3; Diodoms XIX. 14.4; discussed by A- B. Bosworth, 
"Alexander and the Iranians", JHS G, 1980, 12. There is no good evidence on 
which to base speculation that Peucestas adopted the Iranian religion (so F. 
Altheim, Weltgeschichte Asiens in griechischen Zeitalter, I, Halle 1947, 270). 



account which here appears the most detailed and accurate, since 
this, like the incident at the tomb of Cyrus, was an event in which 
Alexander himself was directly concerned. Arrian records that the 
king "sacrificed to the gods to whom he was wont to sacrifice and 
gave a general feast, sitting himself there, and all the Macedonians 
sitting round him; and then next to them Persians, and next any of 
the other tribes who had precedence in reputation or any other 
quality, and he himself and his comrades drank from the same bowl 
and poured the same libations, while the Greek seers and the magi 
began the ceremony. And Alexander prayed for all sorts of bless- 
ings, and especially for concord and community in empire for 
Macedonians and Persians. They say that those who shared the 
feast were nine thousand, and that they all poured the same 
libations and sang the one song of victory" 37 . This prayer had for 
background a mutiny among the Macedonians, caused by their 
resentment towards the Persians in Alexander's service; and it 
cannot be taken as expressing any settled policy on his part to fuse 
Hellenes and Iranians into one imperial people. 38 "Magoi" (the 
generic Greek term for all Zoroastrian priests, whether from east- 
ern or western Iran) are evidently mentioned here because the 
occasion had a partly religious character, with Alexander seeking 
the blessings of both Greek and Iranian divinities upon it; and the 
reference to them seems casual, as if their presence were as much 
taken for granted as that of the Greek seers. This is to be expected, 
since they would naturally be present wherever there were Iranian 
fighting men or civilians who needed their ministrations; 39 and by 
this time Alexander had not only admitted Persian nobles to his 
own close circle, but, from 327, had recruited Iranian troops into 
his army on a large scale, "intending to have them at once as hostages 
and as soldiers". 40 Thus his camp, which by then had become "a 
mobile state and the administrative centre of the empire" 41 , must 
have known the presence of many Zoroastrian priests, ministering 

3J Arrian VII. 1 1 .8; cf. Curtius X.4.3. For the translation of the opening words 
and a discussion of their implication see Bosworth, art. cit., p. 2; and on the large 
numbers Tarn, Alexander, II 440 n. 5. 

58 Bosworth, I.e. 

39 Cf. HZ II 213 ff., 230-1. 

40 Curtius VIII. 5.1. 

41 J. F, C. Fuller, The generalship of Alexander the Great, London 1958, 124 
(cited by P. Green, Alexander of Macedon, London 1974, 381). It has also been 
called a "moving island in an enemy territory", P. Briant, AleKandre le Grand, 
Presses Universitaires de Prance, 1974, 2nd ed. ? 1977, 46, who points out (ib., p. 
82) that Alexander had to live off the country, wherever he was, with resulting 
harsh exactions. 



not only to Persians but also to Bactrians, Sogdians and Aracho- 
sians, Zarangians, Areians and Parthyaeans. 42 

There is no actual mention of magi at the great wedding cere- 
mony which Alexander held earlier at Susa, when he and his 
Macedonian nobles married Iranian ladies of rank, eighty unions 
being solemnized at once; 43 but the weddings are said to have been 
performed "in the Persian fashion", so that it is reasonable to 
assume the presence of magi, passed over as unremarkable. Ale- 
xander himself had previously, in Sogdia, married Roxana, 
daughter of Oxyartes, a Bactrian nobleman;** and now, in tradi- 
tional conqueror's style, he took to wife also the eldest daughter of 
the dead Darius, and the youngest daughter of Darius' predecessor, 
Artaxerxes III. Of the remaining marriages, two are of interest for 
Zoroastrian history, namely that of SeLeucus to Apama, daughter of 
Spitamenes, satrap of Sogdia. who had fought and died valiantly, 
resisting Alexander; and that of Perdiccas, Alexander's close and 
trusted friend, to a daughter of Atropates of Media. 45 In general 
these arranged unions between Macedonians and high-born Ira- 
nian ladies appear as a declaration by Alexander that he intended 
his Companions "to rule with him as the new lords of the con- 
quered empire".* 6 (It is significant that no brides were brought 
from Macedon or Greece to be married to Iranian noblemen.) 

Alexander had previously encouraged marriages between his 
soldiers and Asiatic women, in order, it was said, to lessen his 
troops' desire to return to Macedonia, and to create an army of 
mixed race whose only home was the camp. 47 In general, records of 
his dealings with Iranians show him seeking the co-operation of 
two sets of persons: efficient and reliable administrators, familiar 
with local conditions, and skilled fighting men. 48 Those named by 
chroniclers in the first group were almost all former satraps or 
city-governors, often reappointed to their old posts; 49 but among 
them was one "scribe", Amedines, who had been secretary to 

" Cf. Arrian VII. 6.3. 

43 Arrian VII.4.4-8; cf. Curtius X.iii.11-12; Diodorus XVII. 107.6; Athe- 
naeus XII. 538; Plutarch, Eumenes, 1.3. 

44 On the political motivation for this marriage see Bosworth, art. cit., pp. 

45 Arrian VII. 4.5.-6. 

46 Bosworth, art. cit., p. 12. 

47 Justin XII.4.2-10. 

48 See H. Berve, "Die Verschmelzungspolitik Alexanders des Grossen", Klio 
31. 193ft. 135-68; E. Badian, "The administration of the empire", Greece and 
Rome 12, 1%5, 166-82; Frye, History, 139-44. 

49 Alexander seems to have taken care to attach their sons to his own court, 
where they could be hostages for their fathers' loyalty (Bosworth, art. cit., p. 13). 



Darius, and whom Alexander made governor over a people in 
eastern Iran. 50 The order of scribes, like that of priests, included 
men of a wide range of abilities and social standing; and the chief 
scribes could, like this man, be powerful civil servants. All scribes 
were probably initiated into the lowest grade of the priesthood, and 
would thus have shared with practising priests a basic training. 51 
Being necessarily engaged in worldly matters, they may well there- 
fore have been useful intermediaries at times between fully pro- 
fessed priests and Iran's new infidel rulers. 

It remains remarkable that, although Alexander was the pupil of 
Aristotle, who greatly respected Zoroaster and the ancient order of 
the magi, 52 no mention is made in the surviving annals of any 
encounter between him and a magus, nor is any benefaction or 
generosity attested on his part towards the Iranian priesthood or 
their places of worship. Yet he was in general noted for being "most 
careful of religion", 53 and is recorded to have offered his personal 
devotions to the divinities of other lands he fought in — nameless 
tutelary beings in the mountains above Issus, Melkart in ruined 
Tyre and river gods of the Indus plain. Even more notably, in 
Egypt and Babylonia he took part in traditional rites of worship 
and made liberal benefactions to the temples and priests. In both 
these lands he could, however, present himself as a liberator, come 
to free them from Persia's yoke, whereas he arrived in Iran itself as 
a self-proclaimed avenger and proceeded to pillage, burn and slay. 
For Zoroastrians, such a man could be assigned one role only in the 
cosmic drama, namely that of a creature of the Evil Spirit, with 
whom in the religious tradition Alexander shares an epithet com- 
mon to the pair of them, namely guzastag "accursed". Their rela- 
tionship is declared dramatically in what appears to be a fugitive 

i0 Curtius VII.iii.4. 

51 Gf. HZ II 173-9. It has been objected that the priests' hostility towards 
writing makes this assumption unlikely," but this hostility seems reserved for the 
use of writing for recording (and in the process possibly distorting) holy words. 
Generations still before the Avesta was at last set down, the Sasanian priest Kirder 
makes it plain that the Zoroastrian church used writing extensively for legal 
purposes (M. Back, Die sassanidischen Staatsinschriften, 417 ff.). — The magi 
were phiJoprogenirive, with many sons. They formed, moreover, the learned class 
in Iranian society, and scribes too were learned men. It seems likely, therefore, 
that Persian priests apprenticed younger sons to Babylonian scribes to learn the 
alien craft of writing in the lingua franca, Aramaic; and that those so taught, taught 
others, until gradually throughout Iran men of Iranian priestly stock took over 
this work (as in medieval Christendom the "clerks" or clerics monopolized the 
craft of writing); and that thus the order of scribes evolved, which seems to have 
remained close to that of priests. 

52 Gf. HZ II 260,230-1. 

53 Arrian VII.28.1. 



oracle of the Persian Sibyl 54 , in which Anra Mainyu's name is 
"translated", as regularly, by that of Hades. 55 This oracle was 
uttered most probably in western Anatolia 56 , with the prophecy, as 
so often in this genre, being partly ex eventu. It runs: 

"Also at a certain time there will come to the prosperous 

land of Asia 
a faithless man clad with a purple cloak on his shoulders, 
savage, stranger to justice, fiery. For a thunderbolt 

raised him up, a man. But all Asia 
will bear an evil yoke, and the earth, deluged, will imbibe 

much gore. 
But even so Hades will attend him in everything though he 

knows it not. 
Those whose race he wished to destroy 

by them will his own race be destroyed." 5 

The prophecy of (it seems) destruction of Macedonians by Persians 
was not to be fulfilled; but Zoroastrian priests held firmly to the 
conviction that Alexander belonged wholly to the Evil Spirit. 38 

Iran's nobles would, as Zoroastrians, have shared her priests' 
dualistic world-view; but the practicalities of the new situation led 
some of them, as we have seen, to come to terms with the con- 
queror, and thus to retain their former position of wealth and 
authority; and admiration for his military prowess, and for him 
personally, may well have made their changed loyalty go deeper 
than mere self-interest. They may, moreover, have felt that the 
royal fortune or khvarenah {tyche to the Greeks) had passed to this 
foreign infidel 59 (as long before it had passed briefly to Franrasyan, 
the kavis" foe 60 ), and that they were thus justified in giving him their 
allegiance. Other Iranians of lesser rank who served in his armies 

54 On whom see below, p. 371 ff. 

55 Cf. Hesychius, Lexicon: "Areimanios, that is, Hades among the Persians". 

56 So S, K. Eddy, The king is dead, 12-14. 

57 Sibylline Oracles IIL.388-95, tr. J. J. Collins, OTP, 370-1. Collins de- 
scribes these verses merely as "an isolated piece of anti-hellenistic propaganda" 
(o.c, p. 359); but such propaganda, when couched in such terms, is unlikely to 
have had other than a Persian source. Later a Jewish Sibyllist incorporated this 
oracle among dire prophecies about a Seleucid king whom he saw as oppressor of 
his own people, following it with words derived from Daniel 7; but, pace A. 
Kurfess, Sibyllinische Weissagungen, 295-6, and D. Flusser, Israel Oriental 
Studies II, 1972, 172 n.l. : this does not imply an "influence by Daniel" on the 
oracle itself. See further below, pp. 373—4. 

36 On the later literary fiction that made of Alexander a half-Persian hero, see 
below, p. 60 n. 40. 

59 Cf. Plutarch. Alexander, XXX.8; and below, pp. 57, 287. 
6D Yt. 19.93. 



were fighting men who needed to earn a living, whoever com- 
manded them. The priests in contrast had no professional cause to 
admire Alexander's matchless military skills, and so nothing to 
offset their grief and horror at the devastation which these brought 
about. Nor had they any place to seek in the Macedonian's service, 
for although Alexander was always eager to hear prognostications 
and the interpreting of omens, he was hardly likely to have trusted 
divinations by Iranian priests, who in general would have wished 
to foretell for him nothing but doom, in the spirit of the Sibylline 
verses. An ingenious theory has nevertheless been advanced that 
Alexander may have made one serious effort to come to terms with 
the Persian magi; his unexplained delay of four months at Persepo- 
lis, early in 330, was perhaps, it is suggested, because he was trying 
to persuade the priests there to let him take a leading part in the No 
Ruz celebrations in late March, and so in effect to play already the 
part of Persia's king among the palaces built by Darius* ancestors; 
and their stubborn refusal in the end so enraged him that he burnt 
down these palaces themselves. 61 This theory is necessarily specu- 
lative, since the sources agree in giving the motive for his incendi- 
arism as essentially revenge for the destruction wrought by Xerxes 
in Greece. Nevertheless, it is far from implausible as indicating a 
possible contributor)' factor. Stubborn resistance by the magi in 
such a matter might well be left unrecorded by Alexander's chroni- 
clers, while it seems wholly in keeping with Alexander's liking for 
the dramatic gesture, and his desire for recognition by each coun- 
try's gods, that he should have sought the king's part in this, the 
greatest festival of the Zoroastrian year. It also seems all too likely 
that, if this were denied him, anger at the rebuff would have fuelled 
any half-formed resolve he might have had to blazon his vietory by 
a spectacular act of vengeance. 

Reluctance by Zoroastrian priests to co-operate with Alexander 
would help to account for scant mention of them by his chroniclers. 
It appears also to have led not infrequently to their deaths. Down 
the ages Zoroastrian tradition, from both eastern and western Iran, 
maintained that Alexander slew priests. 62 Clearly many must have 

P. Green, ox. in n. 41, 318-19. It is now doubted that Persepolis had an 
especial significance for the celebration of No Ruz (cf. HZ II 107 ff); but the 
festival must have been celebrated there annually (as everywhere else in the 
Zoroastrian community) and doubtless with much pomp. On the testimony of the 
sources concerning the conflagration see E. N. Borza., "Fire from heaven: Alexan- 
der at Persepolis", Classical PhElology LXVII, 1972, 233-45; E. Badian in CHIr 
II 444-6. 

62 See HZ II 290 n. 15 and to the references given there add GBd. XXXIII. 14, 
and below, p. 16. 


perished with other non-combatants during the campaigns of 
conquest; 63 but the repeated charge seems specific, as if magi were 
singled out for death, and it is very possible that this was because 
they felt it their duty to resist, and to influence their people to resist, 
the Macedonian, to them a petyarag, a calamity sent by Anra 
Mainyu to destroy what was good. In India Brahmans are said to 
have incited local rajahs to defy Alexander, risking and sometimes 
losing their own lives thereby; 64 and it seems likely that Zoroastrian 
priests played a similar part in Iran, encouraging for instance the 
uprisings that went on taking place there even after the whole 
country had been subdued. These uprisings occurred in both east 
and west. Those recorded after Alexander returned from India 
were led by Ozines and Zariaspes in Arachosia, 65 and by Baryaxes 
in Media. The latter claimed the imperial throne, and it is a 
measure of how Iranian loyalties were divided that it was the 
Median satrap, Atropates> who seized and brought him captive to 
Alexander. (The Zoroastrian faith requires an oath of fidelity to be 
kept even if sworn to a wicked man, which includes an infidel. 66 ) 
The Macedonian put Baryaxes to death, together with all "his 
associates in his revolution and rebellion", 67 w ho very probably 
included magi. Once some of their order claimed Alexander's 
attention as offering or inciting resistance, the conqueror was 
evidently perfectly capable of ordering not only their execution, but 
the execution also of large numbers of their brethren, to discourage 
any further such action; and whole priestly groups or colleges may 
thus have met death. The puzzle remains, however, of why his 
chroniclers should have recorded the killing of Brahmans but not of 
magi, leaving us to learn of the latter only from Zoroastrian 
sources; but conceivably the fame of the magi among learned 
Hellenes made it desirable to pass over in silence both their 
obduracy and their slaughter, as redounding little to Alexander's 

The loss to the faith through the deaths of priests was all the 
greater because they were its living books, all holy texts being still 
orally preserved. 68 The most sacred, notably the Gathas of Zoroas- 
ter himself, survived intact, being known to every working priest 
through daily recitation at theyasna; but others, preserved perhaps 

53 Cf. HZ II 288, 290. 

64 Arrian VI. 1 6.5; Diodorus XVII. 102; Plutarch, Alexander, 59.4, 64. 

te Curtius IX.x.19. 

56 Yt. 10.2; Curtius X.iii.7. 

57 Arrian VI.29.3. 

68 See in detail Bailev, Zor. Problems, 149 ff.; K. Hoffmann, ''Altiranisch'', 
HbOI.iv.l (1958), 1-19. 



locally by particular priestly families or colleges, appear to have 
perished at this time — for in an oral tradition the gap of a single 
generation means oblivion. The harm that was then done is indi- 
cated in a badly preserved Pahlavi text emanating (as its content 
shows) from Drangiana (Seistan) in south-eastern Iran. This tells 
obscurely (because of textual corruptions) how, when "accursed 
Alexander" came to Iran "he seized and slew those who went in 
the garments of magi" (awesdn ke pad brah i mogmarddn raft grift ud 
ozad), A few men and boys, it claims, escaped and fled to Seistan, 
bearing with them the knowledge of particular Avestan works or 
"nasks". "A nask . , . would be learnt completely by heart, some- 
times by women, sometimes by a child. And in that way indeed the 
faith was restored in Seistan, re-established and brought afresh into 
order. Except in Seistan, in other places there was no recollection" 
(nask~e, bud zandn, bud aburndjag-e . . . warm kird estad. pad-iz an rah den 
andar sagestdn abaz. gast ud artist ud wirdst, nog nog. be pad sagestdn enyd 
abdrig gyag ne warm). 69 Clearly there is much exaggeration in this 
tale, inspired by local pride; but also, it would seem, a thread of 
true tradition concerning the disasters and losses inflicted by the 
Macedonian conquest. 

When, much later (probably in the fifth-sixth centuries A.C.), 
the A vesta was at last written down, in a beautiful and practical 
script evolved for that sole purpose, the legend developed that a 
written Avesta had existed from the earliest days of the faith, set 
down in liquid gold on parchment, or engraved on tablets of gold; 
and that Alexander had destroyed it. This anachronistic tale, told 
with varying details, is as it stands incredible; 70 but it appears to 

69 J. M. Jamasp-Asana, The Pahlavi texts contained in the codex MK, Bombay 
1913, repr. 1969, 26.10-17. The above translation is essentially that of W. B. 
Henning (unpublished). Slightly differently Bailey, o.c, p. 161. (For a bibli- 
ography of the whole text see G. Gnoli, De Zoroastre a Mani, 45 n. 58, and add B. 
Utas in J. Hannatta (ed.), From Hecataeus to Al-Huwarizmi, Budapest 1986, 

70 The subject is fully treated by Nyberg, ReL, 423 ff. The legend appears in the 
following Pahl. works: DkM 405. 1 1 ff. {the Avesta written down at the command 
of Vistaspa and copies distributed; one burnt by Alexander, the other carried off 
and translated into Greek); DkM 411.17 ff. (written down in the time of Vistaspa; 2 
copies made at the command of "Darius son of Darius 1 *, but scattered by Alexander's 
destruction and pillage by his soldiers); DkM 437.18 ff. (learned by heart from 
Zoroaster by Jamasp and written down on ox-skins with gold; many copies made); 
AVN 1.7 (written on ox-skins with gold; carried off and burnt by Alexander); 
Sahrcstaniha f Eran 1-2 (engraved on gold tablets in Av. script by Zoroaster, at 
Vistaspa's command; Alexander burnt some and threw others in a lake); GBd. 
XXXIII.14 (Alexander burnt the Avesta and sent the Zand to Greece). For these 
and other related texts see Bailey, o.c, p. 151 ff., with his conclusion (p. 162): "It is 
clear that no single account of the transmission of the texts had been uniformly 
adopted by the ninth century A.D." A Manichaean reference in the 3rd century A.C. 



reflect reality in so far as Alexander's conquest did apparently 
cause great harm to Avestan learning. 

Although Alexander's own dealings with the magi appear to 
have been harsh and limited, nevertheless either he or the learned 
men who accompanied him acquired some knowledge of Iranian 
observances; and when in 323, preparing Hephaistion's funeral in 
Babylon, he sought to give his friend the highest honours "he 
proclaimed to all the peoples of Asia that they should sedulously 
quench what the Persians call the sacred fire (to . . . hierbnpur) y until 
such time as the funeral should be ended. This was the custom of 
the Persians when their kings died". 71 The '"sacred fire 1 ' here is 
evidently not a specific temple fire, but fire as the sacred element, 
represented by individual hearth fires throughout the land. Until 
very recently the age-old custom was still observed in traditionalist 
Zoroastrian villages in Iran of extinguishing a hearth fire at the 
death of the master of the house; and that of extinguishing hearth 
fires generally when a chief or king died probably goes back 
likewise to a remote past, far older than the Achaemenian era. 73 
Because under the Achaemenians this general observance seems to 
have been carried out only for the Great King, the Iranians 
regarded Alexander's order as ominous; and a few weeks later he 
himself was indeed dead. 73 As the news of this spread through 
Babylon, where sickness had claimed him, the citizens, Curtius 
relates, 74 climbed to their roofs to keep watch, but did not dare to 
light lamps. This, it has been suggested/ 5 may have been because 
after generations of living under Persian rule they expected the 
order regularly issued on such occasions to extinguish all forms of 
fire in their houses. 

After Alexander 

While Alexander lived, most Zoroastrians, scattered through the 
lands of the former Achaemenian Empire, remained under one 

to books written after Zoroaster's death by his disciples, who remembered his 
words (Kephalaia, I, Manichaische Handschriften der staatliche Museen Berlin, 
Stuttgart, 1940, 7.27—33) is now held to be to Zoroastrian pseudepigrapha. Cf. 
below, p. 510 n. 42. 

71 Diodorus XVII. 114.4. 

On the especial importance of the king's own hearth fire in Vedic and other 
Indo-European fire cults see A. B. Keith, The religion and philosophy of the Veda 
and Upanishads, Harvard University Press, 1925, 625-6. 

73 Diodorus, loc. cit., 5. 

74 X.5.16. 

75 See F. Schachermeyer, Alexander in Babylon und die Reichsordnung nach 
seinem Tode, Osterreichische Akademie d. Wissenschaft, Sb. 268, Bd. Ill, Vienna 
1968, 47. 



ruler; and this state of affairs continued briefly after his death, when 
a council of his Macedonian generals, meeting in Babylon, ap- 
pointed one of their number, Perdiccas. to be regent for his two 
successors— his unborn child by Roxana and his half-witted half- 
brother, Philip Arrhidaeus. Alexander's army was not disbanded, 
but remained in being under Perdiccas' authority; and in its ranks 
were still many Iranian troops, some officered by sons and kins- 
men of great nobles who had served Alexander. They included 
some 30,000 Iranian youths, all of like age, whom he had had 
trained from boyhood for his service in the Macedonian way of 
fighting. 76 

Manoeuvring for power, based on possession of lands, began at 
once, with some reallocation of satrapies. Ptolemy obtained Egypt, 
Eumenes (Alexander's Greek secretary) Gappadocia, while Media, 
strategically the most important of the Iranian satrapies, was 
divided. Greater Media, with the ancient cities of Ecbatana and 
Raga, and control of the Khorasan Highway, went to the Macedo- 
nian Pithon; but, perhaps because he was Perdiccas' father-in-law, 
Atropates kept Lesser Media, that is, the north-west corner of the 
Iranian plateau. There he was able to maintain himself in the 
troubled times that followed, and to found a dynasty;' 7 and the 
region, called after him Atropatene by the Greeks,^ is still known by 
the Arabicised form of its Iranian name of *Atropatakana, as 
Azarbaijan. Another Iranian, Oxyartes, Roxana's father, was ap- 
pointed governor of Paropamisadai in the far north-east; 78 and 
Phrataphernes continued as satrap of Parthia-Hyrcania.' 9 These 
were the only Iranians to retain high authority. Alexander's short- 
lived empire then began to break up as individual Macedonian 
satraps asserted their power. Perdiccas died in 321 trying to re- 
establish his authority over Ptolemy, who thereafter ruled Egypt 
independently. Under the next regent, Antipater, Seleucus ob- 
tained Babylon, and Antigonus, satrap of Phrygia, became also 
commander-in-chief of all Macedonian forces" in Asia. Phratapher- 
nes lost Parthia to a Macedonian, 80 who was himself soon ousted by 
Pithon of Media, who virtually annexed Parthia. The other satraps 
in Iran formed a confederacy against him, finding common cause in 
upholding the interest of Alexander's heirs; and they were joined by 

™ Arrian VII.6.1-2; cf. Curtius VIII.v.l; Diodorus XVII. 108; Plutarch, 
Alexander, 71.1. 

77 Diodorus XVIII.3; Strabo XI. 13. 1. 

78 Diodorus. loc. cit. 

79 Ibid. 

60 Diodonis XVIII.39.6. 



Eumenes, who had replaced Antigonus as commander-in-chief in 
Asia, and who, as upholder of the royal cause, had with him 
Iranian contingents from Alexander's army. (Among his officers 
were a son of Artabazus, 81 and another nobleman who claimed 
descent from one of the six Persians who had set Darius the Great 
on the throne. 82 ) Oxyartes sent troops from the north-east, 33 and 
Peucestas brought a large force from Persis. 84 Antigonus, now 
seeking the kingship in his own right, marched east to join forces 
with Pithon; and, once arrived, he recruited Median and Parthian 
lancers to serve under him, 85 The year-long war, 317—316, was 
thus fought on Iranian soil with Iranian troops on both sides; and 
this and other campaigns in the years that followed probably 
contributed to strengthening Iranian regionalism, with loyalty to a 
particular locality and its traditions becoming increasingly strong, 
In the accounts of it, it is said more than once that the command- 
ers, seeking winter quarters for their forces, managed to find 
districts that were still unplundered. 86 By the winter's end these 
areas too must have been stripped and left impoverished. 

The confederate army had problems over leadership, and so it 
was agreed "that all the satraps and generals who had been 
selected by the mass of the army should gather in the royal tent 
each day and take counsel together about what was for the common 
advantage. For a tent had been set up for Alexander although he 
was dead, and in the tent a throne, before which they were 
accustomed to make offerings." 87 On the throne were placed the 
diadem, sceptre and crown of a Persian Great King, together with 
Alexander's armour." If any Iranian officers were ever present at 
this ritual, they were doubtless able to direct their own prayers 
towards honouring the dead king's fravasi. 69 An act of shared 
worship by Hellenes and Iranians took place when the confederate 
army found itself in Persis, receiving lavish entertainment from 
Peucestas. "There was an abundance of cattle of every kind, which 
Peucestas gathered together from the inhabitants and distributed 
without stint to the soldiers, seeking their goodwill. . . . When they 
had arrived in Persepolis . . . Peucestas . . . performed a magnifi- 

Plutarch, Eumenes, VII. I. 

Diodorus XIX.40.2. 

lb., XIX.14.6. 

lb., XIX.14.5. 

Ib„ XIX.20.2; Plutarch, Eumenes. XVIII.2. 

E.g. Diodorus XIX.34.7. 

lb., XIX. 15.3; cf. Plutarch, Eumenes, XIII.3-4. 

lb., XVIII.60.5-61.3. 

On the cult of the fravasi cf. HZ I 1 1 7 ff. 



cent sacrifice to the gods and to Alexander and Philip; and, after 
gathering from almost the whole of Persis a multitude of sacrificial 
animals and of whatever else was needed for festivities and religious 
gatherings, he gave a feast to the army. With the company of those 
participating he filled four circles, one within the other. . . . The 
circuit of the outer ring was of ten stades and was filled with 
mercenaries and the mass of the allies; the circuit of the second was 
of eight stades, and in it were the Macedonian Silver Shields and 
those of the Companions who had fought under Alexander; the 
circuit of the next was of four stades and its area was rilled with 
reclining men — -the commanders of lower rank, the friends and 
generals who were unaligned, and the cavalry; and lastly in the 
inner circle, with a perimeter of two stades, each of the generals and 
hipparchs and also each of the Persians who was most highly 
honoured occupied his own couch. In the middle of these there 
were altars for the gods and for Alexander and Philip. The couches 
were formed of heaps of leaves covered by hangings and rugs of 
every kind, since Persis furnished in plenty everything needed for 
luxury and enjoyment; and the circles were sufficiently separated 
from each other so that the banqueters should not be crowded and 
that all the provisions should be near at hand." 90 In the light of the 
general situation, and of Peucestas' known persianizing, it is prob- 
able that magi had a part in performing the multitudinous sacri- 
fices needed on this occasion, dedicating them presumably in 
prescribed Zoroastrian fashion, even if Hellenes performed the 
official acts of worship at the central altars. The arrangement of the 
concentric circles seems meant to combine convenience of distrib- 
uting the consecrated food with a sense of unity and communion. 31 
Despite these pious sacrifices, Antigonus gained the upper hand 
and put Eumenes and others to death. 92 He was now virtually ruler 
of Iran, and sought to establish his power by setting as many of his 
own adherents as possible in positions of authority there. Before he 
left Media, laden with spoils from Ecbatana's palaces, he put 
Pithon to death. He did not feel himself strong enough, we are told, 
to challenge Oxyartes in his distant satrapy, or to dismiss the 
Macedonian satraps of Carmania or Bactria, "since they had 
conducted themselves well towards the inhabitants and had many 

90 Diodorus XIX.21.3-22.1. 

91 Bosworth, art. cit. in n. 36, p. 8, thinks that their arrangement was modelled 
on the ceremonial ordering of Alexander's court at Susa; F. G. sees a symbolic 
meaning in both, comparing the Marzuban Name, ed. M. Rowsan, Tehran 
1355/1976, 513 1.8 ff. 

92 Diodorus XIX.48.1. 



supporters"; 93 but he made what other changes he could, and even 
managed to lure the well-liked Peucestas away from Persis, replac- 
ing him by a Macedonian of his own choosing. 94 The Persians were 
angry, and one of their nobles protested, saying that they would 
obey none but Peucestas. This is the only recorded act of Persian 
self-assertion at this time, and the protest was made on behalf not 
of a Persian but a Macedonian. It was given short shrift: Antigonus 
had the noble put to death, and left the new Macedonian satrap 
with enough soldiers to enforce his unwelcome authority. 

Antigonus then marched west, adding to the spoils from Ecba- 
tana vast wealth from the treasury at Susa, and entering Babylon 
with a great baggage train. Seleucus received him with royal 
honours; but then, becoming suspicious that Pithon's fate awaited 
him, fled to Ptolemy in Egypt, leaving Antigonus master of Baby- 
lon also. The latter then pressed on to occupy most of South 
(Coele) Syria, and those areas of Asia Minor which had previously 
escaped his rule. 

In 315 Antigonus was at war with Gassander of Macedon and 
Lysimachus of Thrace, and in 312 his son Demetrius, who was 
holding Syria and Palestine, was attacked and defeated by 
Ptolemy. During this later campaign Ptolemy allowed Seleucus a 
tiny force with which to regain his Babylonian satrapy; and it was 
to 312/11 that the Seleucids dated the founding of their dynasty. 
The apparent ease with which Seleucus took Babylon suggests that 
he was welcomed there; and when the Median satrap Nicanor (who 
had been appointed by Antigonus) attacked him, the Iranian 
troops in his army deserted to Seleucus, who won the day. 95 

In 311 Antigonus concluded a treaty with his three rivals which 
left each master of his own domain, while Antigonus himself was 
recognised as ruler of "all Asia". This treaty was ostensibly only a 
further regulation of Alexander's empire, with Gassander the guard- 
ian of his surviving heir, his son by Roxana. (His half-brother 
Arrhidaeus had been murdered in 317.) Seleucus was not party to 
the treaty, being, it seems, fully occupied in extending his authority 
in Iran. There Antigonus challenged him, and two years of fighting 
followed, ending in a great battle in 309/8, which Seleucus won. 96 
Antigonus appears thereafter to have abandoned his claims to Iran, 
and for the next seven years Seleucus was left to his conquests 

93 lb., XIX.48.5. 
9 * lb., XIX.48.2. 
95 See Will, Hist. 
9fi See ib,, I 66. 

pol., T 61-2. 



there, reaching in the end the most easterly lands of Alexander's, 
that is of the old Achaemenian, empire. There he encountered the 
forces of the first Mauryan emperor, Ghandragupta; but new 
developments called him westward again, and he treated with the 
Indian king, ceding to him the Indus valley, Gandhara, and the 
eastern regions of Arachosia and Gedrosia 97 in return for war 
elephants and other concessions. 

No details are recorded of Seleucus' nine years of fighting, 
311-302, which lasted longer than all Alexander's own campaigns 
on Iranian and Indian soil; and virtually nothing is known of Iran's 
tribulations at that time, or of what alliances were made, what 
resistance offered. 

The only scrap of information which has survived is that Seleu- 
cus in his turn subdued the Bactrians by force. 98 The extant sources 
deal almost entirely with events in the west, where in 310 Alexan- 
der's surviving heir had been murdered, together with his Iranian 
mother. Four years later Antigonus proclaimed himself king, and in 
305/4 Ptolemy also took this title, to be followed by Cassander, 
Lysimachus and Seleucus. The two latter, it is thought, had the 
same limited purpose in this as Ptolemy, namely to declare their 
independence within their own particular domains." This then was 
the formal birth of the separate Macedonian kingdoms. These, 
though geographically far extended, were to retain a common 
character, in that "Ptolemy and Seleucid were to the end Macedo- 
nian kings who happened to reign in Egypt and in Asia". 100 

The sundering of Alexander's empire meant a sundering also of 
the Zoroastrian community. Most Zoroastrians lived in Seleucus' 
kingdom, but some were under Ptolemy's rule in Egypt and Coele 
Syria, many more were in Antigonus' domains, and yet others in 
the Mauryan empire. A minority, in Atropatene, Armenia, Com- 
magene and Pontus, were still ruled by co-religionists; but most 
were subject to infidel kings, and almost all had either suffered 
directly the havoc of war, or had known its menace and its harsh 
material demands. 

" On the extent of the lands ceded by Seleucus see further below, p. 129, 

Justin. XV.4-.11, see Bevan, House. I 277-8. 
99 See Will, o.c., p. 75. 
Bevan, o.c, pp. 57-8. 



The establishment of the Seleucid Empire, 312-261 B.C. 

As a Macedonian adventurer, Seleucus had essentially only one 
title to his new kingdom, that of rig-ht by conquest, in succession to 
the conquering Alexander; though in Iran he had some shadow of a 
claim in preference to other alien pretenders through his marriage 
to Apama. Yet even there his only subjects with a real interest in 
upholding his authority were the Macedonians and Greeks who 
had helped him to establish it, and whose own prosperity and 
hopes of survival were bound up with his fortunes. They were 
relatively few in numbers, while the lands he ruled by 302 stretched 
from the Euphrates to the Jaxartes, with great ethnic and geo- 
graphic diversity. To hold these wide regions he pursued Alexan- 
der's policy of founding cities (or refounding as cities ancient towns 
or villages), to be peopled mainly by Hellenes and to serve as 
strongholds and points of dominance — along the main highways, at 
frontiers, and in places of economic importance. These new cities, 
"nests of an immigrant population devoted to their founder" 1 , were 
centres of Greek habits and culture, each a polis, i.e. "a self- 
governing community of free, land-owning citizens equal before the 
law", who spoke and wrote Greek, maintained Greek institutions, 
and diverted themselves in Greek ways. The most notable of 
Seleucus' foundations during these years was Seleucia-on-the- 
Tigris, established to rival ancient Babylon, and destined to be- 
come the eastern capital of the empire. 2 It was probably also he 
who refounded Susa as Seleucia-on-the-Eulaios; 3 and another re- 
founding of his, on the Iranian plateau, was of the holy city of the 
Median magi, Raga, which stood at a strategic point on the great 
Khorasan Highway leading from Babylon to north-eastern Iran. 4 
Seleucus acknowledged its importance by naming this new polis 

1 Ramsay, Cities, I 10. 

2 Bevan, House, I 253^5: Will, Hist, pol., 1.60-1, 76. 

3 G. Le Rider, Suse, 280. 

* Strabo XI. 1 3.6; Bevan, o.c, I 264. On Ra&a as a Zoroastrian holy city see HZ 
II 8-9, and Further below, pp. 70, 81-2. 



Europus, after his own birthplace. Europus may have been built 
beside ancient Raga, rather than incorporating it; but its close 
proximity, with all the alien comings and goings, must inevitably 
have been felt as pollution by the Zoroastrian priests. 

In due course Antigonus' unquenchable ambition brought a new 
coalition into being against him, to join which Seleucus hastened 
back from the Indian borderlands. 5 In 301 he, Lysimachus and 
Cassander defeated and slew Antigonus at Ipsus in Phrygia, and 
divided his possessions between them. Seleucus obtained Cihcia 
and North Syria, where he founded the city of Antioch-on-the- 
Orontes to be his new capital. He laid claim also to South Syria, 
but this was held by Ptolemy of Egypt and remained disputed 
territory', to be fought over by their descendants in a series of 
destructive wars. Not long afterwards Seleucus joined with himself 
as co-regent his son Antiochus, half-Iranian by blood, who thereaf- 
ter ruled the eastern part of the empire. 6 Antiochus had to fight 
against incursions by Iranian nomads in the north-east; and he was 
successful in this and in consolidating Seleucid rule over all Iran, 
where he continued the founding of cities. 7 It is seldom possible to 
determine which were established there by him, which by his 
father; but between them Greater Media received a number of new 
foundations, because of its wealth and strategic importance; and 
Hellenistic cities are recorded for Persis, Parthia, Hyrcania, Aria, 
and most densely of all for Sogdia-Bactria. 8 

The characteristic names of Seleucus' foundations were Seleucia, 
Antiochia (for his father), Laodicia (for his mother) and Apamea 
(for his Bactrian wife); and this nomenclature continued to be used 
by his descendants. It is not always possible, however, to match the 
ruins of Seleucid cities with known names. Excavations at Ai 
Khanum on the Oxus, in ancient Bactria, show that the Hellenistic 
city there was founded either by Alexander or by Seleucus, and 
have established that, distant though it was, this city was thor- 
oughly Greek in some of its aspects, with theatre, gymnasium, 

5 Gf. above, pp. 21-2. 

6 Will, o.c., 1264,271. 

J, Wolski, "Les Iraniens el le royaume grecobactrien", Klio 38, 1960, 
113-14; Will, o.c, I 268-70. 

For details see below under the different regions. It has been argued that 
among the surprisingly large numbers of Greeks in Bactria there should perhaps 
be reckoned the descendants of small groups transported there from time to time 
by Achaemenian kings, who in one known instance, that of the Branchidae 
(Strabo XI. 1 1 .4, Curtius VII. 5.28— 35) continued to live apart, keeping their own 
language and traditions. See A. K. Narain, The Indo-Greeks, Oxford 1962, 2—6 
(criticised by J. M. Cook, The Persian Empire, 193, for probably exaggerating the 
numbers of such Greek deportees). 



heroon and a few elegantly phrased inscriptions. 9 That such Helle- 
nistic foundations of north-east Iran shared a truly Greek culture 
with cities in the rest of the Empire is strikingly illustrated by an 
inscription from another nameless city, apparently in Hyrcania, 
dated to the reign of Antiochus l. 10 This records the manumission 
of a slave, dedicated to "holy Sarapis" — possibly, that is, to Mithra 
Khsathrapati in Greek guise. 11 The declaration of this manumis- 
sion is addressed to two Seleucid officials, the first-named, Andra- 
goras, being presumably the local satrap. Exactly similar inscribed 
declarations, with the manumitted slave being devoted to Nanaia 
or, in one case, to Apollo and Artemis Daittai, have been excavated 
at Seleucia-on-the-Eulaios (Susa),' 2 it being Greek law which was 
thus being followed in these two cities set at the opposite ends of 
Seleucid "Asia*'. 

Eventually new rivalries led Seleucus to take the field against his 
former ally Lysimachus, whom he defeated in 281 at Corupedion, 
near Sardis. He was thereby able to add to his vast domains almost 
all Lysimachus' possessions in Asia Minor; and Sardis, which had 
been the chief Achaemenian city in the west, became the third great 
city of his empire. These accessions brought yet more Zoroastrians 
under the rule of Seleucus, who now held (except for Egypt, South 
Syria, and the Indian satrapies) almost all the former Achaeme- 
nian territories. 

The next year Seleucus made a bid to gain possession also of his 
homeland, Macedonia, and was murdered at the outset. Antiochus 
hastened westward, and by hard fighting succeeded in retaining the 
lands acquired by his father in Asia Minor. He also attacked two 
territories, Cappadocia and Pontus, which were being ruled by 
dynasts who claimed Achaemenian descent and had many Zo- 
roastrians among their subjects. Antiochus in the end abandoned 
his efforts at conquest here, and entered into friendly relations with 
both rulers. Another region which fought successfully for indepen- 
dence was Bithynia, in the north-west corner of Asia Minor, which 
had never been fully incorporated in the Achaemenian empire. In 
277 its ruler, hard-pressed by family rivalries and Seleucid power, 
brought over from Thrace, as mercenaries, the Galatians, ferocious 
fighters who stayed on to terrorize western Asia Minor, town and 

9 See further below, pp. 157-8. 

10 Robert, "Inscription hellenistique dTran", Hellenica XI-XII, 1960, 

11 See below, p. 476 f. 

13 Le Rider, Suse, 292—3; for a bibliography of the inscriptions see Robert, art. 
cit., p. 86 n. 2. 



countryside alike. Little is known of Antiochus' own struggles 
against them, but in 275 he achieved victory of a sort; and subse- 
quently the kings of Bithynia and Pontus managed to settle them 
more or less in a region carved out from Phrygia and Cappadocia, 
known thereafter as Galatia. 13 A year later, the first of the Syrian 
Wars between Seleucid and Ptolemid began, and lasted until 271 
with no clear result. One of the two chief sources concerning it, a 
Babylonian cuneiform tablet, 14 records that in 273 the satrap of 
Bactria contributed twenty war-elephants to Antiochus' forces, 
which is seen as an early instance of how the Seleucids weakened 
north-eastern Iran, ever exposed to nomad pressures, in the interest 
of their western domains. During this war the south coast of Asia 
Minor was harassed by Ptolemid ships; and its ports were to be 
fought over for decades by the two powers. 

In 268 Antiochus was in Babylon, where he put to death his 
eldest son and co- regent, Seleucus, for conspiring against him — the 
first of many dynastic troubles for his house. In 263 he was fighting 
again in Asia Minor, suffering defeat that year near Sardis by 
Eumenes, ruler of the little coastal principality of Pergamum, and 
till then his vassal. Two years later Antiochus died, having never, 
as far as is known, returned to Iran during his twenty years of 
independent rule. Some assign to these years of Seleucid preoccu- 
pation with the west the rise of the Fratarakas in Persis as a 
virtually independent vassal dynasty. 15 

Down to the battle of Magnesia, 261-190 B.C. 

From Seleucus' victory at Corupedion down to that of the 
Romans at Magnesia the Seleucid Empire had thus three main 
divisions: in the west Asia Minor up to the great barrier of the 
Taurus; in the centre North Syria, which was the dynasty's heart- 
land, with Cilicia and Mesopotamia; and in the east Babylonia and 
Iran. "The natural clefts of the Empire, the fissures which were so 
apt at any weakening of the central authority to gape, followed 
geographical barriers. . . . The long struggle for each one has a 
more or less separate history." 16 The student of Zoroastrianism 

13 See further below, p. 258 with n. 10. 

'* BM 92689, see S, Smith, Babylonian Historical Texts, London 1924, 150 ff.; 
Will, Hist, pol., I 147. 

15 See further below, p. 1 10 ff. On the possibility that Antiochus' sons, Seleucus 
and Antiochus, had ruled successively in the east as his co-regents, see Will, o.c, I 
274; D. Ring, EIr.II 2, 126. 

16 Bevan, House, I 76. 



needs to know something of the political history of all three regions, 
since that religion had adherents in each. Throughout, information 
is most abundant for Asia Minor, and scantiest for Iran. 

Antiochus II (261-246), who succeeded his father, is, like him, 
not known to have set foot in the eastern region during his reign, 
though his name occurs as that of a distant ruler (together with 
those of other Middle Eastern kings) in two of the rock-edicts of 
Asoka, the third Mauryan emperor (grandson of Chandragupta, 
with whom Seleucus I had treated), who had ascended the throne 
about 268. 17 In the west Antiochus II continued his father's poli- 
cies, strengthening ties with Cappadocia by giving his daughter 
Stratonice in marriage to its ruler. 18 Hostilities with Pergamum 
ceased, but continued with Egypt, afflicting still the south coast of 
Asia Minor. In the unrest the great city of Miletus, seized by a 
local tyrant and retaken by Antiochus, hailed the latter with 
diplomatic gratitude as Theos "God", which remained his 
by-name. 19 Antiochus I had already been accorded divine honours 
at Ilion in his lifetime, 20 but there is no evidence for a general 
imperial cult of the living ruler (as distinct from such local civic 
ones) before the reign of Antiochus III. 21 

The Second Syrian War occupied much of Antiochus II's reign; 
and consequent neglect of the east presumably contributed to the 
growing independence of Bactria and Parthia under their Macedo- 
nian satraps, Diodotus and Andragoras. 22 The war ended in 253 
with Ptolemy II the loser. Antiochus recovered Ionia and various 
ports of Asia Minor, and on agreeing to repudiate his wife Laodice 
received Ptolemy's daughter, Berenice, in marriage with a large 
dowry. When he died in 246 Laodice, then living in Ephesus, 
proclaimed her elder son king, as Seleucus II. Berenice and her 
small son, in Antioch, were killed. Her brother, Ptolemy III, 
espousing their cause, landed in Syria before this was known, and 
from there marched east through Mesopotamia to Babylon. 
Domestic troubles then forced him to return to Egypt, but his army 
seems to have pressed on for some distance into Iran, without 

17 See further below, p. 147. 

18 Will, ox., I 292. 

19 Bevan, o.c, I 174-5, 176" Will, o.c, I 241. 
™ Bevan, o.c., I 177. 

21 Will, o.c, II 1 12-13. Or civic cults of Macedonian kings see S. R. F. Price, 
Rituals and Power. 25-31. 

22 Probably the Andragoras of the Hyrcanian inscription of Antiochus Fs time, 
sec art. cit. in n. 10 for Robert's comments. For a general bibliography or these 
events see Will o.c, I 287-8, 305-8. 





achieving any lasting conquest. 23 This is accounted the Third 
Syrian War. Meantime in Further Iran power had been seized in 
Parthia, probably in 247, by Arsaces, a chief of the semi-nomadic 
Iranian tribe of the Parni and founder of the dynasty that was to 
rule the Parthian Empire. For some eighty years, however, his 
successors remained rulers of Parthia and some adjacent regions 
only, often fighting with their neighbours, notably the powerful 
Greco-Bactrian kingdom, which became independent at about the 
same time as Parthia. The Arsacids appear to have embraced 
Zoroastrianism from the outset of their rule, whether politicly or 
from conviction. 24 

Seleucus II had established himself meanwhile on the throne of 
Syria, and in 241 concluded a peace with Ptolemy III. In Asia 
Minor, to strengthen his position, he gave his sister Laodice in 
marriage to the king of Pontus; but in 240 his brother, Antiochus 
Hierax (the "Hawk"), who had been governing as his viceroy in 
Sardis, made a bid for the crown. Mithradates II of Pontus and 
Ariarathes III of Cappadocia, each related by marriage to the two 
brothers, both supported Hierax, who drew heavily on Galatian 
mercenaries. Seleucus suffered a crushing defeat at Ancyra in Phrygia, 
and was forced to abandon Asia Minor to his brother. Hierax 
seems then to have led his forces against Attalus of Pergamum, only 
to be defeated in his turn, perhaps in 238. 25 For the next decade 
Galatian bands again terrorized western Asia Minor, bringing on it 
a "deluge of anarchy and barbarism" 26 , while Hierax now fled 
them, now sought to oppose them, and eventually himself led them 
once more against Attalus. Between 229 and 227 the latter won 
three decisive victories, subduing the Galatians and forcing Hierax 
to flee, like his brother before him, across the Taurus. Seleucus was 
then absent in Iran, fighting the Parthians;" but his generals met 
and defeated Hierax in Mesopotamia, and a year later he was 
assassinated. In the same year, 226, Seleucus II also died, having 
abandoned his Iranian expedition to struggle with the situation in 
the west. His son, Seleucus III, was assassinated in 223 while 
leading an expedition against Pergamum. The throne then passed 
to Seleucus IPs younger son, Antiochus 111, who thus inherited a 

23 See Will, o.c, I 251-2, 256. 

For an outline of the evidence for their Zoroastrianism see Boyce, Zoroast- 
rians, 80-100. 

" Will, o.c, I 296-7. 

16 Bevan, ox., 1 196. 

27 Will, o.c. I 308-10 (who puts his Iranian expedition between ± 230 and ± 
227); Le Rider, Suse, 298-9. 

greatly diminished realm, consisting, as far as is certainly known, of 
Syria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Susiana, Persis and Media. (The 
extent of Seleucid authority over other parts of Iran at this time is 
obscure. 28 ) 

The first success in recovering some of the lost territories was 
won for Antiochus III by his cousin Achaius, who in 222 defeated 
Attalus of Pergamum and regained the former Seleucid possessions 
in Asia Minor; but in the same year Molon, satrap of Media 
(supported by his brother Alexander, satrap of Persis) revolted and 
marched on Babylon. Antiochus himself met and defeated him in 
221, a number of Molon's soldiers deserting to the young 
Seleucid. 29 Molon had had some support from Artabazanes of 
Atropatene, and Antiochus now marched against him. This seems 
to have been the first time that this Iranian principality, a strong- 
hold for Zoroastrianism, was invaded by a Macedonian army. 
Artabazanes, an old man, made peace at once on terms — 
presumably the paying of tribute; and Antiochus returned to 
Antioch, where he learnt that Achaius had proclaimed himself king 
in Asia Minor. Antiochus, leaving him be, embarked on the Fourth 
Syrian War (219-217), seeking once more to gain South Syria, but 
meeting heavy defeat at the battle of Raphia. He then entered into 
alliance with Attalus of Pergamum, crossed the Taurus and in 215 
took Sardis, eventually capturing and killing Achaius. The lands he 
regained thereby were essentially Lydia and Phrygia, some former 
Seleucid territories being presumably ceded to Attalus as his 
reward, 30 

Affairs in the west being thus more or less satisfactorily settled, 
Antiochus turned again to the east. In 212 he invaded Armenia and 
exacted tribute; and the next year he was in Media, preparing for a 
great expedition against Parthia (where Arsaces II was then rul- 
ing) and Bactria (where the Greek Euthydemus was king). Before 
embarking on this enterprise he associated with himself in the 
kingship his young son Seleucus (born to him by his wife Laodice, 
daughter of Mithradates II of Pontus and of Laodice, Antiochus' 
own aunt, sister of Seleucus II 31 ). The imperial treasury was 
evidently depleted by continual wars, with loss of territory and 
interruption to trade; 32 and Antiochus was reduced at the outset to 

* a Cf. Will, o.c, I 308-9; H. H. Schmitt, Untersuchungen, 45-84. 

29 On his revolt see Will, o.c, II 20-1; Le Rider, o.c, p. 300; Schmitt, o.c. 

30 Will, o.c, II 50. 

31 For Antiochus' family tree see Schmitt, o.c, p. 297. 
" Will, o.c, II 55. 




plundering Anahit's great temple at Ecbatana of what precious 
metals remained to it after earlier Macedonian pillage. 

In 209 Antiochus marched east along the Khorasan Highway, 
reaching Hecatompylos (modern Kumis) without encountering 
resistance. Arsaces II had retired behind the mountains to Hyrca- 
nia, and Antiochus' army struggled after him, taking the towns of 
Tambrax and Syrinx, At the latter place, when the wall was 
breached, the defenders massacred all the Greek residents before 
attempting flight, 33 Thereafter, it is said, Arsaces fought with great 
valour, and was finally admitted "to an alliance" with Antiochus, 
accepting, it appears, the status of a vassal-king. 3 * The Seleucid 
then marched against Euthydemus of Bactria, who met him with a 
largely Iranian army. Antiochus won the first battle and laid siege 
to the Bactrian king in his capital of Zariaspa (Bactra). The siege 
lasted two unavailing years 35 ; and in the end Antiochus made a 
treaty with Euthydemus, recognizing him as king, and being 
supplied by him with war-elephants and provisions for his troops. 

Antiochus then marched on east, crossing the Hindu-Kush into 
Paropamisadai, where, it seems, he treated on friendly terms with 
its Indian prince, receiving from him more elephants and provi- 
sions. He then returned across western Arachosia and Drangiana, 
to winter in Garmania. Finally he visited the important trading 
port of Gerrha on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf, returning at 
last to Seleucia-on-the-Tigris in 205/4. The fact that he did not 
enter Persis in person is taken as proof that that satrapy then fully 
acknowledged Seleucid suzerainty and needed no quelling. 36 

By this grand circuit of the east Antiochus was held to have 
"put his kingdom in a position of safety, overawing all subject to 
him by his courage and industry"; 37 and thereafter he took the 
Achaemenian title of ''Great King", Basileus Megas. The chief 
practical gain from the seven arduous years appears to have been 
the restoring of trade along both northern and southern routes, and 
the stimulating of new commercial activity in safer conditions. 38 It 
was probably at this time, at the height of his fame, and as a 
measure, it seems, to strengthen the ties between the Hellenistic 
cities (on whose loyalty the Seleucids still so much depended) and 
the throne, that Antiochus instituted an official cult of the living 

Polybius X.31,11. 

Justin XLI.5.7; see Bevan, o.c, LI 20; Will, o.c, II 57; Le Rid* 

See Will, o.c, II 60. 

lb., II 63-4, 65. 

Polybius XI.39.15. 

Will, o.c, II 66-8; Le Rider, o.c, pp. 30J-4, 34S. 




king, exacted from his subjects rather than being voluntarily offered 
by them. 39 The cult was to be served by a high priest in each 
satrapy, whose term of office was presumably annual, since legal 
instruments were dated by it. — These details are to be inferred 
from a royal edict of 193, of which three inscribed copies survive, 
decreeing the establishment of a parallel cult of the living queen 
(then Laodice of Pontus), under the charge of a high priestess. 40 

In 204 Antiochus was in Asia Minor, where he won back some 
cities from Egypt and local dynasts, and threatened Pergamum's 
sphere of interest; 41 and in 202 he invaded South Syria for a second 
time, and after a two-year campaign won a decisive victory over the 
Egyptian forces there. So at last this disputed region (which in- 
cluded Judea and Samaria) became a Seleucid possession. Egypt 
and Pergamum appealed to Rome, already involved in Greek 
affairs, for help against Seleucid aggression; and in 200 a Roman 
embassy sought to mediate between Antiochus III and Ptolemy V. 
Antiochus returned to Asia Minor with large forces, and by 196 
had established himself at Ephesus, from where he crossed to 
Thrace. Subsequent campaigns led to war with Rome, and Antio- 
chus was defeated at Thermopylae in 191. He retired to Asia Minor 
and gathered a great army at Sardis to meet the pursuing Romans. 
"All Asia felt the strain of effort. Every province from the Mediter- 
ranean to Central Asia sent its choice of fighting men" 42 , with 
many Iranian troops, including semi-nomadic Dahae, in Antio- 
chus 1 forces; 43 but at the battle of Magnesia- by-Sipylus in 190 the 
Romans were victorious, and a year later, at the Treaty of Apamea, 
imposed harsh conditions. A heavy indemnity was exacted, and the 
Taurus mountains were set as the western boundary of Seleucid 
power. Thus ended the Seleucids' century-long struggle for Asia 
Minor. A number of Zoroastrians who had hitherto been their 
subjects in western Anatolia passed once more under the rule of 
Pergamum (which had allied itself with Rome); and eventually, in 
133, they found themselves living in the newly created Roman 
province of Asia. 

The shock of the defeat at Magnesia was clearly enormous, with 
wide repercussions; and the loss of Seleucid prestige as well as 
possessions is likely to have threatened the recently restored situa- 

39 Will, o.c, II 112-13, 

*° One of these inscriptions is from Laodicia-Nehavend in Media, see below, 
pp. 88-9. 

41 Will, o.c, II 113. 

42 Bevan, o.c, II 93. 

* 3 Cf. ib., p.94; Le Rider, o.c, p. 322. 



tion in Iran. Payment of the indemnity also drained the state's 
reduced resources. In 187 Antiochus III marched east again, but 
was killed ignominiously trying to plunder a temple in Elymais. 4 *' 

The final period of Seleucid rule, 190-64 B.C. 

After Magnesia Antiochus III had had to give his younger son, 
Antiochus, to Rome as hostage. The elder succeeded him, as 
Seleucus IV; and in due course was obliged to send his own son 
Demetrius as hostage in Antiochus' place. Seleucus was assassi- 
nated in 175, and his brother, then living in Athens, succeeded him 
as Antiochus IV, to become the most widely known of his dynasty 
because of his dealings with thejews. Through these light is shed 
on the contending forces of Hellenism and traditional religious and 
national feeling in one part of the Seleucid Empire; and despite the 
special features of the Jewish situation, this is of value, analogically, 
for reconstructing the history of Zoroastrianism at this epoch. 
Antiochus, a complex character, was a champion of Hellenism; and 
he strove also to exalt his own status as a living god (declared by his 
by-name of Theos Epiphanes, "God Manifest"), seeking to estab- 
lish his own worship as a common factor among a multiplicity of 
cults. In this he was doing no more than accentuating what he had 
inherited from his father; but he did so impressively, putting 
"Theos" on his coins, and letting his head be shown in godlike 
fashion, surrounded by rays." 

At first Antiochus appears, like his predecessor, to have been 
preoccupied with internal affairs; but in 170 he became embroiled 
with Egypt. He invaded that land successfully in 169 and again in 
168, when a resolution conveyed to him from the Roman Senate 
caused him to cease hostilities and withdraw. This was another 
harsh blow to the Seleucids' prestige, since Rome now manifestly 
dictated the limits of their power throughout the eastern Mediter- 
ranean lands. 

Returning from Egypt in 169, Antiochus had entered the temple 
at Jerusalem and seized its wealth and treasures (as he had done 
those of other Syrian temples, being continually in need of 
money); 46 and on his backward march a year later, finding Jeru- 
salem in the grip of troubles which had the look of anti-Seleucid 
plotting, he took the city by assault and sacked it. Thereafter its 

See further below, pp. 40—1. 

Bevan, o.c, II 154-5; cf. Will, o.c., II 308 for bibliography. 

Bevan, o.c, It 156-7; Will, o.c, II 337, 339. 



temple passed into the control of the inhabitants of the polls 
established around the citadel, and an altar to an alien god was set 
up within it. 47 In 167 Antiochus issued an edict constraining the 
Jews to abandon their religion and law and to adopt Greek ways, 
with the worship of Zeus Olympius, on pain of death. This pro- 
voked the Maccabean revolt, and with it the beginning of years of 
alternating strife and concessions between the Seleucids and Jews; 
but initially Antiochus left a regent to deal with the uprising while 
he himself took the field elsewhere. In 165 he was in Armenia, 
whose king he subjected; and thence he marched south to Media, 
where Ecbatana, it seems, now exchanged "its old and famous 
name for Epiphanea, perhaps on receiving a new Greek colony". 46 
He proceeded then to Mesene, on the Persian Gulf; and at some 
point tried, like Antiochus III, to seize the treasures of an Ely- 
maean temple, but was rebuffed. 49 He was perhaps making a circuit 
of the western borders of Iran, and gathering resources, before 
challenging the Parthians, 50 now under the formidable rule of 
Mithradates I; but in 164 he died of illness at Gabai (Isfahan). 

Antiochus V, a boy of nine, succeeded his father under a guard- 
ian; but his cousin Demetrius, son of Seleucus IV, having been ten 
years a hostage in Rome, now escaped and succeeded in attaining 
the throne. He was a strong king, but had much to contend with, 
including the continuing Jewish troubles; and in 150 he was killed 
in battle, the victim of yet more dynastic intrigue, furthered by 
Egypt, Rome and Pergamum. His supplanter, the adventurer 
Alexander Balas, proved worthless, and was assassinated in 145, 
the throne passing then to Demetrius II, son of Demetrius I; but a 
military commander crowned Balas' infant son as Antiochus VI, 
and after his convenient death proclaimed himself king, under the 
name Tryphon. These dynastic troubles, and the growing strength 
of Parthia, appear to have had a disastrous effect on Seleucid trade 
in the east; 51 and appeals for help against rising dangers were 
reaching Demetrius from the Hellenistic cities there. Mithradates 

47 Will, o.c, II 338 (following essentially the studies of E. J. Bickerman for 
which see ib.. p. 332). 
43 Bevan, o.c, II 160. 

49 For a bibliography of this event see J. Sievers, EIr. II 2, 129. Against 
Wikanders attempt (Feuerpnester, 71-5) to see this as pare of Antiochus' 
religious policy, with him. as bridegroom of the goddess, claiming a bride-price, 
see Will, o.c, 11 354-5; Schmitt, Untersuchungen, 102-3; and further on the 
incident below, p. 41. 

50 Will, o.c, H 352. On Antiochus IV's Iranian expedition see Le Rider, o.c, 
pp. 311-24- 

51 Le Rider, o.c, pp. 310-11, 347-9. 



had already occupied Media, in 147, and in 141 he invaded 
Babylonia, taking Seleucia-on-the-Tigris. Demetrius, leaving forces 
to combat Tryphon, marched against him, and achieved early 
successes; but in 138 he was defeated and taken captive by the 
Parthians, who then established a hold on Babylonia and Elymais, 
and the regions along the Persian Gulf 52 Almost all Iran was thus 
once again under Zoroastrian rule. 

Demetrius' throne was claimed by his younger brother, Antio- 
chus VII, who began his reign auspiciously by defeating Tryphon. 
In 130 he set out with a large army against the Parthians, and, it 
seems, won three battles, regaining Babylonia and Susa 53 , and 
pressing on to winter in Media. There in the spring of 129 he was 
attacked by Mithradates' successor, Phraates II, and lost his life. 
This marked the end of Seleucid power in Iran after a span of about 
180 years, or some six generations. 

The dynasty survived in Syria through a series of short reigns, 
rent by feuding and "self-consumed by its own disordered 
energies" 54 ; until in 64 Pompey appeared and annexed Syria as a 
Roman province, deposing the last Seleucid, Antiochus XIII. 

53 A. D. H. Bivar, CHlr. III. 2, 35. 

On Susa at this juncture see Le Rider, o.c, pp. 337-8. 
M Bevan, o.c. II 262. On the last reiens of the dynasty see Will, o.c, II 448 ff., 
505 ff. 




Refounded by Seleucus as a Greek polls under the name 
Seleucia-on-the-Eulaeus 1 , Susa was never to regain its former rank 
of imperial capital; but down to the end of the Parthian period it 
remained an important city, the head of a satrapy whose bound- 
aries corresponded — at least originally — to the present-day prov- 
ince of Khuzistan. Unlike Persepolis, it had not been deprived of 
its former royal splendour, and its palaces were maintained, with a 
veneer of Greek decoration, for the use of the Macedonian satrap 
and occasional visits by the Seleucid court 2 ; an inscription datahle 
to the end of the third century B.C. mentions "Timon, the chief of 
the royal palace" 3 . As a military stronghold Susa kept a great 
strategic importance; in 222 Molon, the rebellious satrap of Media, 
occupied the lower town (the "craftsmen's town" of the archaeolo- 
gists), but was unable to capture the upper town. 4 

Susa continued to play a major economic role, the tributes 
brought from all parts of the Persian empire being now replaced by 
a trade conducted by merchants, predominantly along the Mesopo- 
tamian axis. It has even been argued that the Seleucid kings 
deliberately favoured this development,, the new foundation of Susa 
going together with the creation of a direct waterway between the 

1 The fundamental work on Susa during this (and the subsequent) period is Le 
Rider, Suse, 1965. (Tarn, GBI, 27, considers that Seleucia-on-the-Eulaeus was 
first founded as a military colony, and became a polls only under Antiochus III; 
but see Le Rider, o.c, pp. 280-1). 

1 P. Bernard JA, 1976. 256. The "Palace on the Shaur" built by Artaxerxes II 
opposite the opaddna hill has also yielded evidence of a Seleucid reoccupation: ib., 
n. 33; R. Boucharlat and A. Labrousse, Cahiers de la DAFI 10, 1979, 71-8. 

3 Published by F. Cumont, CRAI 1932, 272^. 

1 Polybius V.48.13-15; cf. above, p. 29. Archaeological investigations have 
shown that reinforcement of the defences of the upper town during this siege 
caused the first damage to the apadana palace, which was repeatedly despoiled 
subsequently for the sake o[ new buildings (including, it seems, the so-called 
dyadana, on which see below, n. 22): R. Ghirshman, Arts Asiatiques, 1968, 14—17; 
Terrasses sacrees, I 200. 



town and the Persian Gulf 5 ; this was achieved by restoring and 
extending the old channel of the Ulai" (mentioned in Daniel 8:2, 16), 
whose name was adapted to "Eulaios" by the Macedonian settlers. 
In any case, study of the coins found on the site shows that 
Hellenistic Susa was able to attract a substantial share of the trade 
between the new capital Seleucia-on-the-Tigris and the Gulf (de- 
spite the fact that Susiana was deprived of part of its coastal strip 
by the satrapy of the "Erythraean Sea", carved out at its expense 
some time before 222, which was to become the kingdom of 
Mesene-Characene) . 

By comparison, commercial links with the Iranian plateau ap- 
pear to have been limited. This was, no doubt, due partly to the 
growing power of the Elymaeans, masters of the Bakhtyari moun- 
tains and able therefore to control the routes between Susiana, 
Media and Persis 6 . After their resounding victory over Antiochus 
IV's plundering expedition in 164 7 they appear to have encroached 
gradually upon the lowlands, removing the whole left bank of the 
Karun river from Susa's control. In about 1 47 s their king Kamni- 
skeires, first of a long line of rulers to bear this name (or perhaps 
rather title), held Susa briefly, and issued coins there with his 
Greek-looking portrait. 9 This episode opened two extremely con- 
fused decades in the history of the city, which saw an alternation of 
Elymaean and Parthian occupations, interrupted by the reign of an 
obscure usurper bearing the Iranian name Tigraios (c. 137—132), 
and by two ephemeral Seleucid reconquests: first by Demetrius II 
(140), then by his brother Antiochus VII (130-129). 10 Parthian 
rule in Susa was firmly established only with the defeat of the latter 
at the hands of Phraates II. In these struggles the Elymaeans 
appear to have acted as a last rampart against Parthian expansion, 
giving battle to Mithradates I after his capture of Seleucia-on-the- 
Tigris, then sending troops to Demetrius II during his ill-fated 
expedition in 140. 

5 Le Rider, o.c, pp. 267, 302—8 for the intensification of this traffic under 
Antiochus III. Ed. Will, however, has expressed a certain scepticism about the 
long-sighted economic projects attributed by this author to the political masters of 
Susa: Hist.pol., II 62, 354, 454. On the economy of Susa and Susiana see also R. 
Bouchariat, "Suse, marche agricole ou relais du grand commerce", Paleorient 
11/2, 1985,71-81. 

6 See below, pp. 40-1. 

7 See above, p. 33. 

a According to Le Rider's revised chronology of this period, following new 
nnmismatic discoveries: RN. 6e ser., 20, 1978, 33—7. Slightly different views by P. 
Strauss, RN 13, 1971, 109-40. 

9 Le Rider, RN II, 1969, 18-22 with PI. II/10-1I. 

10 See above, pp. 33-4. 



Loss of the function of a capital city, and the severing to a large 
extent of traditional links with the Iranian heartland, led to a sharp 
decline in social influence (and probably also in numbers) of 
Iranians in Susa. In fact, among the numerous personal names 
attested by Greek inscriptions from the Seleucid and Parthian 
periods, the only Iranian ones belong (with one possible exception) 
to administrators posted there by the Arsacid kings; some are 
Semitic, while the overwhelming majority are Hellenic." Until the 
Sasanian conquest the civic power was to remain continuously in 
the hands of the descendants of the Seleucid settlers, who main- 
tained their cultural identity in the gymnasium and in their culttc 
associations. 12 On the local coinage the images of deities remained 
purely Greek during the whole of the Seleucid period 13 The fa- 
vourite types were Apollo and Artemis, ancestral gods of the 
dynasty; in their quality of Daittai i.e. "Carvers" (presumably at 
civic banquets) they shared a temple built by the colonists (known 
from an inscription, but its site not identified). 14 The occurrence of 
a bee or deer on some coins has been interpreted as an influence of 
Artemis of Ephesus, possibly introduced by Ionian settlers native 
to that city. 15 

The absence of any iconographic contamination with Nanaia, 
the major local deity, is striking, and suggests that in this period 
her cult was not officially confounded at Susa with that of Artemis 
(as it appears to have been in Parthian times, when coins issued by 
the Susian mint show Artemis with such orientalizing attributes as 
a polos, a diadem and rays). Nevertheless the temple of Nanaia, 
continuously maintained — possibly on the same spot — since the 
cult of the goddess had been brought from Erech in the twelfth 
century B.C., remained the most prestigious temple of Susa 16 ; and 

" Le Rider, Suse, 230-7. The only seemingly indigenous name which could be 
Iranian is Goras, father of Ariston who at the end of the 1st cent. B.C. engraved 
(or perhaps composed) a Greet epigram embodying some Iranian concepts (see 
HZ IV). Cumont (CRAI 1931, 248) compared the name with Waraz "boar"; but 
others consider it Semitic (Le Rider, o.c, p. 286 nn. 2, 3). 

12 Mentioned in an inscription of the first half of the 1st cent. B.C. (Cumont, 
CRAI 1933, 264-8). 

15 Le Rider, o.c, pp. 288-93. The only exception is, under Antiochus IV, an 
enthroned goddess with polos and sceptre, accompanied by an eagle. Le Rider has 
shown that this type, also attested in Syria-Phoenicia, cannot be specifically 
identified as Nanaia, but indicates rather an attempt by Antiochus to unify 
artificially various local goddesses while associating them w'ith his own favourite 
deity, Zeus Olympics, symbolized by the eagle. 

14 Le Rider, o.c, p. 289; this inscription was pnblished by Cumont, CRAI 193 1, 

13 Tarn, GBI, 6; Le Rider, o.c, p. 281. 

16 See HZ II 31 A T. Olmstead, History of Assyria, N.Y.-London 1923, 486. 





from the time of Antiochus III we have proof that it was frequented 
by the colonists. It is in fact mentioned in a series of Greek 
inscriptions recording manumissions; these were found reused in 
the masonry of a later dungeon on the southern edge of the tipper 
town, but were originally displayed in various temples to whose 
gods the freedmen were consecrated 17 . While one inscription men- 
tions Apollo and Artemis Daittai in this connection the four others 
in which the name of the deity is preserved have "Nanaia"; the 
names of the manumitting masters are all Greek, except for one 
woman, Beltibanatis (feminine of "Bel is creator") 18 . Starting from 
the fact that almost all the slaves mentioned are women, and 
elaborating from uses well attested in Semitic religion, the first 
editors considered that the manumitted were bound to remain in 
the Nanaia temple as sacred prostitutes. 19 But this theory has since 
been demolished: every clause in these acts can be accounted for by 
Greek law, under which consecration to the deity was simply meant 
to warrant the former slave's freedom 20 . 

There is — unfortunately for our purpose — no evidence to show 
whether any Zoroastrian rituals had been introduced in the Susa 
temple under the Achaemenians, when Nanaia tended to be fused 
with "Anahif' and possibly provided a model for the image~cult of 
this goddess 21 ; and, if so, whether these rituals survived the down- 
fall of Persian power. The decrease of the Iranian element, which 
we have been led to assume, does not speak in favour of such an 
assumption. The existence of a fire temple is even more speculative 22 . 

There is, however, one puzzling document which may indicate 

Pliny, Hist.nat., VI. 135, expressly pairs Susa and evidently the Nanaia temple: 
"the river Eutaeus . . . passes round the citadel of Susa and the temple of Diana, 
which is regarded with greatest reverence by the races in those parts". 

17 These inscriptions (and others not pertaining to manumissions) were pub- 
lished bv Cumont: Memoires de la Delegation Archeologique en Perse 20, Paris 
1928, 77-98; CRAI 1931, 278-92: 1932, 278-86; 1933, 260-8. But see below, n. 

18 Cumont, CRAI 1933, 262. 

19 See especially Cumont, Mem. de la Delegation . . ., pp. 86—7; also P. 
Koschaker, Abh, Sachs. Akad. d. VVLss., 42, 1931, 68-83. 

20 L. Robert, Revue de Philologie, 1936, 137-52 (repr. in Opera Minora Selecta 
2, Amsterdam 1969, pp. 1216-31). 

21 One can ask whether the "setting up" of images of Anahit by Artaxerxes II, 
recorded by Berossus. was not in certain cases (especially at Babylon and Susa) an 
appropriation of existing images of Nanaia or Ishtar, going together with the 
introduction of magi in their temples (although M. B. expresses strong doubts 
about this suggestion). The only Achaemenian witness of a cult-statue of Anahit, 
that on a Greco-Persian seal, could pass for the depiction of a Mesopotamian 
goddess worshipped by a Persian (see HZ II 204 with n. 37, 274). 

On the spurious "Achaemenian ayadana" see HZ II 225—6. To the refer- 
ences given there, add: Ghirshman, Terrasses sacrees, I, 197-200; D. Stronach in 

that in certain circumstances the Apollo worshipped at Susa was 
consciously assimilated to Mithra: a royal bronze issue of Artaban 
II 23 dating from circa 126/125— shortly after the last Seleucid 
reconquest of Susa— bears, on the obverse, the full-face portrait of 
the king while the reverse shows a nude Apollo holding his quiver 
pressed under his left arm (an unusual depiction, supposedly 
copied from some local statue); he gives his right hand, perhaps 
holding an arrow, to a kneeling figure with a high rounded tiara 
and billowing hair. This is obviously the Parthian king, associated 
with the god in a scene of investiture or worship. That the Arsacid 
sovereign agreed to be shown in this humble attitude is in itself 
surprising, even more so in front of a Greek god; and one is tempted 
to conclude that the Parthians were already used to regarding 
Apollo's images as Mithra's— an inheritance from the Hellenistic 
age (In fact, later on, Tiridates of Armenia quite clearly declared 
to Nero that an Arsacid king kneels to Mithra, and normally, it 
would seem, to no other: "Master, I am the descendant of Arsaces, 
brother of the kings Vologesus and Pacorus, and thy slave. And I 
have come to thee, my god, to kneel {proskymson) to you as I do to 
Mithra") 24 . In the case under discussion, it remains surprising that 
Artaban, whose short reign was entirely devoted to the eastern 
front, should have taken this step precisely at Susa, a place he is 
unlikely to have visited; and one is led to suppose some initiative by 
his satrap, the circumstances of which we have no means of knowing. 

Papers in honour of Professor Mary Boyce, Acta lr. 25, Leiden 1985, 619-22 
(both accepting the traditional identification as a temple— not necessarily a tire 
temp le_ but proposing a date not earlier than the 2nd cent, B.C.); H. P. 
Francfort in Le Plateau iranien et l'Asie centrale des engines a la conquete 
islamique, ed. J. Deshayes, Paris 1977, 279-80; R. Boucharlat in Temples et 
sanctuaires ed. G. Roux (Travaux de la Maison de 1'Onent, 7), Lyon 1984, 
126-30 (both contemplating the possibility of a non-religious, post-Achaememan 

Pa " Leader, o.c, issue 97, ill. PL X, descr. p. 79, comm. pp. 293-4, 374-6 The 
issue is there attributed to Mithradates I and dated 140-138; but a coin hoard 
since discovered has led to its reattribution to Artaban II (O. Nforkholm, Acta 
Archaeologies (Kobenhavn), 36, 1965, 151; accepted by Le Rider, RN 20, 1978, 

35n.2). nci . . . 

2 * Dio Gassius LXII.5.2. Le Rider (o.c, p. 375) mentions this passage as 
eeneral evidence for proskynesis to the gods, but does not point to the specific link 
between Apollo and Mithra. The political explanation tentatively suggested by 
him (Mithradates paying homage to the god of the Greeks of Susa as an extreme 
concession to detach them from the Elymaeans) would not, theoretically, be 
incompatible with the reattribution to Artaban II; but in any case this gesture by 
a Parthian king is surely more comprehensible if he identified Apollo with his own 
Mithra yazata ofjust war and treaties. Compare the proskynesis of the Kushan king 
Huvishka in front of Nana: R. Gobi, System und Chronologie der Munzpragung 
des Kusanreiches, Wien 1984, 43 with PL 167, type "Nana 5". 






The earliest transmitted account of the Elymaeans comes from 
the report of Nearchus, Alexander's admiral; he mentioned them in 
a list as a "predatory people" of the Zagros mountains, who 
"exacted tribute from the [Achaemenian] kings". 25 Their territory 
occupied a long stretch of the mountain ranges to the north-east 
and east of the lowlands of Susiana. They were sometimes in league 
with their northern neighbours the Cosseans, who held to ransom 
travellers on the mountain road linking Susa with Laodicia and 
Ecbatana; to the east they bordered the Paretacenians, masters of 
the highlands above Gabai (Isfahan); to the south-east, the Uxians, 
who held the "Persian gates". In the period considered here the 
main axis of their realm appears to have been along the road which, 
from Susa and Sostrate (Shushtar), cut through the Zagros along 
the tortuous valley of the Pasitigris (Karun), the longest river of 
Iran, and reached the plateau at the oasis of Gabai. Although not 
now used as a road, it is still marked by impressive constructions 
known as the "road of the Atabeg", but undoubtedly in part much 
earlier than this medieval dynasty 26 . 

Like their successors in the same area — the Kurdish Atabegs, the 
Bakhtyars in the last century — , the Elymaeans derived consider- 
able wealth from their control of all the southern passes of the 
Zagros; they were also highly valued as archers, and presumably 
their mercenaries contributed greatly to the quantities of weapons 
offered at their temples 27 , together with other fabulous riches. In 
187 Antiochus III, on the pretext of suppressing rebelliousness, but 
in reality anxious to replenish his treasury, emptied by the payment 
of tribute to Rome 28 , attacked a temple of Bel 29 (otherwise called 

3S Q uote d by Strabo XI. 13.6; see also id., XI. 12.4, XV.3.12, XVI 1 8 and 
17-18. For the early history of the Elymaean kingdom generally see Le Rider 
Suse, 353-5. 

H. Layard, Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana, and Babylonia London^ 
1887, I, 412-24; A. Stem, Old Routes, 137-41; K. Schippmann, "Notizen zu 
einer Reise in den Bachtianbergen", AMI 3, 1970, 231-7 with PI. 110-14- 
Ghirshman, Terrasses sacrees, I 179-84. Remains ofSasanian bridges have been 
surveyed by J. Hansman (still unpublished; mentioned in Archaeological Investi- 
gations in Northeastern Xuzestan, 1976, ed. H. T. Wright, Ann Arbor 1979 
114 T"23 on the Seleucid to Early Islamic period). 

' I Mace. 6:1-4; followed by Josephus XII.354. The weapons are said there to 
have been offered by Alexander. 

m See above, pp. 31-2. 

29 Diodorus XXIX. 15. This expedition, together with that of Antiochus IV has 
been fully discussed by M. Holleaux, "La Mort d'Antiochos IV Epiphanes" 
Revue des Etudes Anciennes, 1916, 77-102 (= HoHeaux, Etudes d'epieraphie ct 
d histoire grecques, III, Paris 1942, 255-79), who has proved conclusively the 

"Zeus" 30 or "Jupiter Elymaean" 31 ); he managed to pillage it, but 
the inhabitants killed him and all his troops as he retreated. In 164 
Antiochus IV, proceeding towards Gabai 32 , tried to repeat his 
father's mischief, selecting as his target the temple of a goddess 
whom Greek historians call either "Artemis" 33 or "Aphrodite" 34 , 
and to whom // Maccabees gives her real name, Nanaia.* 5 Repelled 
by fierce local resistance, he had to go on his way, only to die 
shortly afterwards at Gabai. (These episodes, it has been 
supposed 36 , may account for the fact that Elymaean kings recorded 
at Susa from the 140's onwards are given a title meaning "trea- 
surer": KamniskireSy from Elamite qa-ap-nu-is-ki-ra 37 — their kingship 
having, according to this hypothesis, evolved from the hereditary 
guardianship of the national wealth kept in temples.) In 139/138, 
however, priestly resistance proved unsuccessful against Mithra- 
dates I: better prepared than his Seleucid predecessors, he man- 
aged to take "both the temple of Athena and that of Artemis, the 
latter called Azara" (identical with the one attacked by Antiochus 
IV?), "carried off treasures valued at ten thousand talents", 38 and 
secured the submission of Eiymais 39 — temporarily only, as it was to 

historical character of both episodes, against earlier authors who took only the first 
as authentic. K. Eddy. The King is Dead, 133-4, 145-6, reconstructs a back- 
ground ol political agitation stirred up by the Elymaean priests, which is perhaps 
pressing the sources too far. 

Diodorus XXVIII. 3 (on the same episode). 

ai Justin XXXII. 2. 1-2 (the mss., wrongly, give "Jupiter Didymaean"). 

yi See above, p. 33. 

33 Polvbius XXXI.9 (abridgment); followed by Josephus XII.354-355, and 
Porphyrins, FGrH II, n° 260, F.53 and 56 (from Jerome, In Daniel X, 718, 722): 

M Appian, Syr., 66. As noted by HoDeaux, o.c, p. 258 n. 6 (reprint), the variant 
creates no difficulty as the oriental goddess (whether Nanaia or Anahit) could as 
well be equated with Aphrodite as with Artemis. 

II Mace. 1:13—15; see also 9:1—2 (where the episode is situated at Persepo- 
lis!). The parallel passage, I Mace. 6:1—4, does not name the goddess. Some 
polemical embroideries of II Mace, led S. Wilcander (Feuerpriester, 71—5) to 
imagine that both kings intended to celebrate a ritual marriage between their own 
divine persons and the Elymaean goddess, but see above, p. 33 n. 49. 

36 J. Harmatta in Ghirshman, Terrasses sacrees, I 296. Otherwise Henning, art. 
cit. in n. 37, p. 165. 

3/ W. B. Henning, "The Monuments and Inscriptions of Tang-i Sarvak", Asia 
Major 1952, 151-78 (= Selected Papers II, Acta Ir. 15, 1977, 359-86). 

39 Strabo XVI. 1.18. (Although Strabo simply mentions a "king of Parthia" 
without date, it is generally agreed that this episode took place during the 
campaign recorded by Justin, see n. 39). 

39 Justin XLI.6.8 The puzzling relief of Hung-i Nauruzi (otherwise Hung-i 
Azhdar) near Izeh-Malamir, which apparently represents the investiture of a 
local king by a sovereign on horseback, has been interpreted as commemorating 
this event: L. Vanden Berghe, "Le Relief parthe de Hung-i Nauruzi", Ir. Aut. 3, 
1963, 155-8 with Pis LIII-LVI; and with K. Schippmann, Les Reliefs rupestres 



reappear a few decades later as an independent kingdom, which 
lasted until its conquest by the first Sasanian king. 

About seven cult centres dating from the time of the Elymaean 
kingdom are known at present, most of them in the vicinity of the 
Karun vaJIey 40 . Two, possibly three, have so far yielded material 
attributable to the Seleucid period. 

The most impressive discoveries have been made at Shami, a site 
enclosed by mountains at the north-west edge of the plain of 
Izeh-Malamir (itself lying at the foot of the main Zagros ridges 
and, to judge from the concentration of monumental remains, 
obviously then the political centre of inner Elymais). Here, among 
traces of an ancient settlement occupying a natural terrace between 
two peaks, a rescue excavation brought to light the remains of a 
temple 41 ; it was probably built of mud brick, as only stone founda- 
tions of the rectangular outer wall could be traced (23 by 12 m.), 
and the inside layout could not be reconstructed with certainty. 
The furnishing eonsisted of a burnt-brick altar, tkymiateria (burners 
for offerings), and seven stone bases for statues of deities and rulers, 
themselves made of stone or bronze, of which substantial remains 
had escaped ancient pillagers. Among pieces of distinctly Greek 
work were a female stone head* 2 , and a mask from a bronze statue, 
slightly larger than life, depicting a beardless, youngish man with 
Hellenistic diadem 43 . This royal portrait has been variously iden- 
tified as Alexander 44 , Antiochus III, or Antiochus IV 45 ; and the 
last theory has gained wide acceptance, leading to far-reaching 
speculation. But there is no special similarity with known portraits 
of Epiphanes; identifications from the features of the mask are 

d'Elymaide (Iran) de fepoque parthe, Gent 1985, 32-7 with Pis I-VI. The 
disproportionate profile head of die riding king is almost certainly copied from 
tetradrachms of Mithradates I, but the general style points to a far later date of 
execution. See lastly T. Kawamy, "Monumental Art of the Parthian Period in 
Iran 1 ', Acta Ir. 26, Leiden 1987, 1 19-25. (The reading and historical interpreta- 
tion of inscriptions (?) by J. Harmatta, AASH 29, 1984, 189-217, are extremely- 

40 Schippmanti, Feuerheiligtumer, 217-61; Vanden Berghe-Schippmann, o.c 

4i Stein, o.c, pp. 130-5 and 141-9, with Pis IV-VI; Schippmann, Feuer- 
heiligtumer, 227-33; Ghirshman, Terrasses sacrees, I 236-8 with n. 1 (who 
attempts to reinterpret the plan). 

42 Stein, o.c, p. 134 with fig. 49 (interpreted as Aphrodite); Ghirshman, I.e. (as 
Artemis); Kawami, art. cit., p. 133 with PI. 67 (no identification). 

* s Stein, o.c., pp. 150-1 with PI. IV. 

44 lb. (tentatively). 

45 M. Rostovtzeff, The Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World, 
Oxford 1941, 166 with PI. X/h who eventually decides in favour of Antiochus IV. 
Followed (among others) by Eddy, o.c, p. 146; Ghirshman, I.e.; Vanden Berghe- 
Schippmann, c.c, pp. 19-20. 



risky, as it has come to us broken in three pieces which cannot be 
rejoined 46 ; and historical probability goes against the idea of Seleu- 
cid kings dedicating costly statues of themselves at sanctuaries 
which they were merely interested in despoiling. This effigy is far 
more likely to belong to a local king; and in fact the tetradrachms 
which they issued at Susa show that the Elymaean conquerors of 
the 140' s did not wear beards, and were eager to commission 
superb portraits of themselves from local Greek craftsmen 47 . (The 
almost intact bronze statue of the "Parthian prince", which has 
made the site famous, probably dates from at least a century 
later.) 4 * 

The presence of impressive statues of rulers has led to the 
supposition that the temple at Shami was consecrated to the cult of 
deified kings 49 ; or, more cautiously, that it contained a gallery of 
royal ancestors, like the one at Nimrud Dagh. 50 But such hypoth- 
eses are not necessary to account for these effigies, which could 
simply have been erected by donors, according to the Hellenistic 
custom now documented as far east as Ai Khanum and Takht-i 
Sangin 51 ; the most logical assumption is that the Shami mask 
commemorates the generosity lavished by one of the conquerors of 
Susa on his national sanctuaries. Remains of the cult statue are 
more likely to be represented by colossal fragments, which show a 
bare thigh and a left hand bent around some added object 52 : these 
may indicate a Zeus (i.e. Bel) with his sceptre, or, less probably, a 
Heracles with his mace. 

Fifty kilometres further west, standing among lower, dry ridges 

*" Wrongly interpreted by Ghirshman as coming from two heads, one male, one 
female (I.e.; also Iran. Parthes et Sassanides. Paris 1962, 20-1, with illustration). 
The lace has since been reassembled at the Tehran Museum, although with much 
distortion (photograph in G. Herrmann, The Iranian Revival, Oxford -Lausanne 
1977, 39). A lead cast which has so far been used in attempts at identification 
(Stein, "An Archaeological Journey in Western Iran", The Geographical Journal 
92, 1938/2, fig. 9; Rostovtzeff, I.e.), appears to have important details such as nose 
and chin completed from imagination. 

*' The arrangement of the hair on the Shami mask is almost identical with that 
of the head on the tetradrachm of Okkonapses, the 3rd Elymaean king of Susa, 
who issued coins here c. 140-138: see Le Rider, RN 20, 1978, p. 33 fig. I. This 
identification would not be contradicted by what is left of the features of the mask. 

+B See lastly Kawami, art. cit., pp. 59-63 with PI. 11. Ghirshman's attempt 
(Terrasses sacrees, I.e.) to put all the Shami finds in the Seleucid period does not 
carry conviction. 

49 Stein, Old Routes, 151, 155; Eddy, o.c, p. 146 (who goes so far as to consider 
it a temple to Antiochus Epiphanes). 

50 S. M. Sherw in- White, "Shami, the Seleucids and dynastic cult: a note", 
Iran 22, 1984, 160-1, For Nimrud Dagh see below, p. 328. 

51 P. Bernard, Abstr. Ir. 8, 228. 

52 Stein, o.c, p. 151 with PI. V/4, 5. 






which form the transition between the Zagros and the plain, is the 
stone "Sacred Terrace" of Bard-i Neshande 53 , which appears to 
have been built during the Hellenistic period. No object found here 
is characteristically Achaemenian, and coins deposited by visitors 
at the foot of the original facade (subsequently enclosed in an 
extension of the terrace) belong to the Seleucids and to an Ely- 
maean ting of the 140's 54 . In this first phase the terrace supported 
only a square podium (5 by 5 m. 7 preserved to a height of 1 m.); it 
was perhaps already flanked by a sacristy of similar dimensions. 

The existence of a Seleucid phase is less easily ascertained at 
Masjed-i Solaiman, a still larger terrace 18 km to the south of 
Bard-i Neshande, on the road linking inner Elymais with Sostrate 
and Susa. Here too the original terrace, of uncertain date, also 
carried (presumably from the beginning) an open-air podium 53 . On 
a western extension, a large temple was built in Parthian times 
upon a layer of loose stones which the excavator considered to be 
the remains of an earlier temple (the "Temple anterieur"), pur- 
posedly demolished 56 . The objects found in this layer appear to be 
modest remains of temple furnishings; their style certainly does not 
contradict the proposed Seleucid date, but would also be compati- 
ble with the early Parthian period 57 . Among them are cult imple- 
ments (thymiateria, situlae); terracotta statuettes of horsemen 
wearing the Macedonian kausia, riding double-headed horses and 
carrying the image of a nude goddess 58 ; and two small bronze 
images of Athena 59 (a later votive plaque from this same temple 
shows her standing side by side with Artemis 60 ). On the western 
edge of the complex there stood a small temple to Heracles in 
Parthian times. (The excavator's theory that this existed already in 
the previous period lacks substantiation. 61 ) 

There is a romantic appeal in trying to associate Elymaean sites 
explored by archaeologists with this or that episode known from 

53 Ghirshman, Terrasses sacrees, I 3-38, with plans £-11. 

54 lb., p. 15; C. Auge, R. Curiel and G. Le Rider, Terrasses sacrees de Bard-e 
Nechandeh et Masdjid-i Solaiman. Les trouvailles monetaires, Paris 1979 (Mem 
DATI, XLIV), 16-17. 

53 Ghirshman, ox., I 53-75 with plan III. 

* lb., pp. 7&-7. 

lb., pp. 78-89 3 with corresponding illustration in vol. II. 
lb., I 73-81; II, Pis CXI-CXIII. See below, n. 68. 

* lb, I 89; II, Pis XCVII/3 and C/I-2. 

lb, I 117-8; IT, PI. XCVII/I. Subsequent cleaning at the Louvre Museum 
has established the true identity of the deities, wrongly interpreted as Aiiahit and 
Mithra in the publication (communication by P. Bernard). 

' lb., pp. 90-1 (cf. p. 119: "all the sculpture . . . dated already from the 
Parthian period"). 

historical sources. So, the temple of Bel which cost Antiochus III 
his life has been tentatively identified with Bard-i Neshande^; that 
of Nanaia — supposedly the same as the "Azara" temple — has been 
located at Shami 63 ; and the demolished "Temple anterieur" at 
Masjed-i Solaiman was regarded by its excavator as the Athena 
temple ransacked by Mithradates G4 . All these identifications are 
possible, but none is compelling, especially if one bears in mind 
that the archaeological exploration of Elymais is still far from 

A question of more consequence for the present history is the true 
identity of the deities variously named in our sources, and the 
nature of the cult celebrated in the temples so forcibly defended by 
the Elymaeans. The excavator of the "Sacred Terraces" proposed a 
definitely Iranian interpretation, taking these monuments as a 
point of reference for the whole evolution of Zoroastrian forms of 
worship down to the Sasanian period 65 . According to him, the 
Elymaeans, originally a branch of the Persian tribes, established 
these terraces for the open-air worship of Ahura Mazda as de- 
scribed by Herodotus, the podiums being destined for the ceremo- 
nial lighting of the sacred fire; the addition at Masjed-i Solaiman of 
a roofed temple to Athena (and, it was alleged, of another to 
Heracles) was ascribed to a Macedonian garrison; after the col- 
lapse of Seleucid domination the service of the temples was main- 
tained (or restored) by the local inhabitants, who reinterpreted the 
Greek deities as Anahit and Vahram respectively. But this theory, 
attractive as it might appear, has since been proved to rest on 

62 Vanden Berghe-Schippmann, o.c. in n. 39, p. 17. 

* 3 Ghirshman, I.e. in n. 41, who draws an attractive comparison between the 
setting of Shami and the mountainous landscape mentioned in the Porphyrins' 
fragment (quoted above, n. 33), which also gives the name "Saba", possibly 
reflecting "Shami". Unfortunately one cannot be certain that these indications 
actually refer to the Elymaean temple, as the arrangement by Jerome of quota- 
tions from Porphyrius is far from clear. Moreover, nothing in the Shami finds 
points clearly to Nanaia or Artemis. (The confusion between the Nanaia temple of 
Susa and the one attacked by Antiochus IV, made by Tarn, GBI, 463—6 and 
Wikander, I.e. in n. 35, arose from an obsolete identification of Elymais with 

64 Ghirshman, o.c, p. 89. Differently Henning, art. cit., p. 177, and J. P. Guepin, 
Persica 2, 1965-66, 19 so,., who propose putting the "Azara" temple near Tang-i 
Sarvak — a location consistent with what is known of Mithradates" campaign, but 
rather off the probable road taken by Antiochus IV" to Gabai. The targets of the 2 
attacks may well have been distinct, as Elymais could have supported more than 
one rich temple of Nanaia. 

Ghirshman, o.c, passim; summarized in "La Religion de l'Iran du VHIe, 
siecle avant notre ere a I'lslam", in Le plateau iranien et I'Asie centrale des origines a 
la conquete islamique, ed. J. Deshayes, Paris 1977, 343—8. 



ruinous foundations 66 . In particular, it has been brought out that 
the cultural connections of the Elymaeans were more with the 
Elamites of old (their most likely ancestors, from whom they 
inherited their name and the title of their kings), and with Mesopo- 
tamia (whence they borrowed their written language, a form of 
Aramaic) 67 . The "Macedonian garrison" at Masjed-i Solaiman 
remains a mere hypothesis, as no traces of its quarters have been 
found 6 * 1 ; and the discoveries at Shami, in the very heart of the 
country, show that the Elymaeans did not need Greek settlers to 
feel the impact of Hellenistic forms of cult. 

According to Darius, the unsubmissive Elamites ''did not wor- 
ship Ahuramazda" 69 ; and they are not likely to have adopted his 
cult later on, when pressure exerted by Achaemenian power di- 
minished and eventually disappeared. The abundant series of 
cultic scenes dedicated in Parthian times by worshippers on the 
Terraces never illustrate such specifically Zoroastrian motives as 
the baresman, mouth-coverings, or prayers uttered before a fire- 
holder; in this respect they stand in marked contrast with the 
iconography of frataraka coins and reliefs from neighbouring 
Persia 70 . The most explicit religious record of Elymais, i.e. the in- 
scribed reliefs carved in the later political centre at Tang-i Sarvak 
(second century A. C), do not hint at any assimilation between Bel 
and Ahura Mazda, for the king worships Bel (clearly named) in the 
form of a baetyl set on a stepped podium 71 . One cannot but 
consider the possibility that the podiums on the "Sacred Terraces" 
fulfilled a similar function 72 . Parthian reliefs from Masjed-i Solai- 

See already the reservations expressed on both the chronology and interpreta- 
tions by Schippmann, Feuerheiligtumer, 244-51, 256-8; also HZ II 22. A well 
argued refutation is given by J. Hansman, "The Great Gods of Elymais", in 
Papers in honour of Professor Mary Boyce, Acta Ir. 25, Leiden 1985, 229-46 with 
Pis II-IV (who also draws Elymaean coins of the Parthian period into the 

67 Henning, art. cit.; HZ II 130; Hansman, art. cit., pp. 241-2. 

Ghirshman's interpretation (o.c, pp. 78-81) of the votive statuettes as 
depicting Macedonian ampkippoi (i.e. horsemen provided with a remount) carrying 
a statue of their protectress Athena Hippiais unacceptable; the horsemen ride one 
bicephalic horse, and the nude goddess can in no case be the virgin Athena. The 
only feature of probable Macedonian origin is the kausia worn by the horsemen, 
See also below, p. 187. 

65 See HZ II 127. 

70 See below, pp. 113-14, 117. 

71 So Henning, art. cit., pp. 157, 160, Pis XV, XVI, XXIV; H. Seyrig, "Sur un 
bas-relief de Tang-i Sarvak", Syria 47, 1970, 1 1 3 with Pi. IX; Hansman, art. cit., 
pp. 238-9; Kawami, art. cit., pp. 94-5, 103-4, PL 47. Ghirshman's interpreta- 
tion of the baetyl as a royal tiara (o.c, p. 284) has been rightly rejected. 

Ghirshman's identification as fire-chambers (ateshgah) of niches hollowed in 
the outer facade of both terraces (Bard-i Neshande: o.c, pp. 20-1; Masjed-i 



man show Zeus-Bel with cornucopia, pouring an offering with a 
patera on a thymiaterion 73 \ this gesture, already found on Seleucid 
coins from Seleucia-on-the-Tigris which depict the same god (alone 
or paired with Tyche-Ishtar) 74 , refers to the characteristically 
Semitic concept of the god sacrificing to himself (Zoroastrian 
deities occasionally sacrifice to others, but never to themselves). 
Artemis and Athena, also, as we have seen, attested in the Seleucid 
period at Elymais, both from historical sources and archaeological 
remains, reappear at Tang-i Sarvak, enthroned together and re- 
ceiving royal homage 73 . Their depiction side by side would not be 
expected in western Zoroastrianism, where their concepts would 
normally have been merged in that of Anahit 76 ; perhaps this 
representation reflects the ancient pair formed by Ishtar (hence 
Athena) and Nanaia (hence Artemis); or, alternatively, Athena 
might here stand for Allath, as she does so often on the western and 
northern periphery of the Arabian desert 77 . 

One source, it must be admitted, could suggest that this Nanaia- 
Artemis was eventually assimilated to Anahit: Aelian mentions that 
"in the country of Elymais there is a shrine to Anai'tis and there are 

Solaiman: o.c, pp. 61-2) is unacceptable. In both cases these are situated close to 
an access stairway and lack any flue, so that they are far more likely to have 
sheltered oratories for cult-images. 

73 Ghirshman, o.c, II, PI. LXXIX/2; identified by Hansman, art. cit., p. 243 
with PI. III/3 (but the "baetyl" is in reality a thymiaterion). Add Ghirshman, same 
plate, 3-4. 

7 * Seyrig, art. cit., pp. 114-5; Hansman, art. cit., pp. 236-7. Also depicted, 
without patera, at Tang-i Sarvak (see ib.), and by a bronze statuette from the 
Parthian shrine at Bard-i Neshande (identified by Hansman, art. cit., pp. 2+3-4 
with PI. III/2). 

' 5 Seyrig recognized Athena (art. cit., p. 115 with PI. IX/3), but mistook the 
radiated Artemis for Helios; similarly Hansman, art. cit., with PI. Il/a, and 
Kawami, art. cit., pp. 100-1 with Pis 44-5. In fact both goddesses are identically 
dressed with a long mantle ending in a train. The correct interpretation was put 
forward by H. von Gall, AMI 4, 1971, 212-13; approved by P. Bernard (personal 
communication). Vanden Berghe- Schippmann, o.c. in n. 39, pp. 67-72 with PI. 
31-3, were misled by damages to the surface and took both to represent bearded 

76 In eastern Iran Athena preserved a distinct personality, thanks to her 
assimilation to the Zoroastrian Arstat (F. Grenet, St. Ir. 13, 1984, 258-61, and 
"1/ Athena de Dil'berdzin", in Cultes et monuments religieux, ed. Grenet, 41-5 
with Pis XXIV-XXV). There is, however, no indication that such a process took 
place in the west. 

77 Herodotus (1.131) bears witness to the fame enjoyed by Allath beyond her 
Arabian homeland already in the Achaemenian period. See, however, J. Starcky's 
reservations (Lexicon Iconographicon Mythologiae Classicae, 1/1, 1981, s.v. 
"Allath"): "Even if Aramaic influence was strong in Elymais, there is no reason to 
suppose a cult to Allath there, but, at most, an imitation of the iconographic type of 
Athena-Allath*"; the author is, however, influenced by the traditional, and highly 
debatable, identifi cation of the Elymaean Athena with Anahit. 



tame lions there which welcome and fawn upon those on their way 
to the shrine" 78 — a detail which is very appropriate to Nanaia. But 
by Aelian's time the name Anahit had become so generally asso- 
ciated with various oriental "Artemises", that one is entitled to 
doubt whether the Elymaean Nanaia was really worshipped by 
Zoroastrians as their own goddess 79 . It has been alleged also that 
the presence near Masjed-i Solaiman of natural fires fed by jets of 
gas was likely to attract Zoroastrian veneration, bearing in mind 
the cult paid in Sasanian times to "self-sustained fires" (ataxs i 
a-xwarisnlk) m : this is possible, but this circumstance does not ap- 
pear to have any bearing on the character of the deities worshipped 
on the terraces. 

To conclude, there are indications that Zoroastrianism met a 
fairly rigid barrier at the south-western edge of the Iranian plateau: 
Elymais, together with Susa, belonged decidedly to the sphere of 
Babylonian religion. It was receptive of outer forms of Hellenistic 
worship, but, despite two centuries of Achaemenian domination, 
the impact there of Zoroastrianism remained probably of an intel- 
lectual character, and confined to educated urban circles. It is, 
therefore, not surprising that the Zoroastrian Parthian conquerors 
treated with equal harshness the temples at Babylon and in 
Elymais 81 , repeating in the latter the behaviour of their Seleucid 

78 XII. 23. 

79 Similarly Hansman, art. cit., pp. 234-5. 

80 E. Henzfeld, AMI 1, 1929, 71-2, and AHI, 93; M. Siroux, Athar-e Iran 3, 
1938, 157-9; Stein, o.c, p. 162. For a Zoroastrian interpretation of the demon- 
stration of properties of oil, made to Alexander in Adiabene (Plutarch, Alexander, 
35), see G. DumeziL, "Alexandre et le mandat celeste", in Dumezil, L'Oubli de 
1'homme et 1'honneur des dieux, Paris 1985, 236-41. 

81 Diodorus XXXIV.21 (destruction of temples at Babylon by Phraates II after 
his defeat of Antiochus VII, cf. above, p. 34). 





At the time of Alexander's conquest, it is reasonable to assume, 
most inhabitants of the towns and villages in the Iranian satrapies 
were Zoroastrians, the oldest communities being in the east, but 
leadership in religious as in political matters having been exercised 
for generations by Persians under the rule of the Great Kings. This 
leadership had manifested itself in later Achaemenian times in a 
number of innovations, including the introduction of a common 
liturgical calendar, the building of temples to house cult images 
and consecrated fires, and the fostering of the monistic heterodoxy 
of Zurvanism. Despite Zoroastrianism having become "the" Ira- 
nian religion, there is evidence down to Sasanian times and beyond 
of the survival here and there of yet more ancient Iranian beliefs. 1 
(Similarly, paganism persisted in out-of-the-way places over many 
centuries in Christian Europe.) North-east Iran was moreover open 
to the recurrent introduction of pagan or aberrant beliefs and 
usages by new Iranian settlers, infiltrating or invading from the 
steppes. Evidence for the existence of such beliefs or usages there in 
Arsacid or Sasanian times is not by itself proof therefore that they 
were known in those regions in the Achaemenian or Seleucid eras. 

The main question concerning the latter epoch is, however, that 
of the interaction of Zoroastrianism with Hellenistic religion. As its 
later history shows, the Iranian faith was little affected in the long 
run by the European one; but despite the meagreness of the direct 
evidence, some points of considerable interest can be deduced 
about influences or reactions between the two during the Seleucid 
period itself. 

Contacts between Hellenes and Iranians 

An important aspect of the question is how closely or generally 
the two religions in fact came into contact. The obvious and 
impressive setting for an encounter by Iranians with Hellenistic 

See Zaehner, Zurvan, 13-16, and further below, pp. 170-1, 457-8. 



worship was the Hellenistic city, with its dignified temples and 
beautiful statues of the gods, its colourful religious processions and 
public sacrifices. Yet such cities, though numerous enough to allow 
the Seleucids to hold most of western Iran for generations, were few 
in proportion to the vastness of the land. Old Iranian towns 
continued to exist, even though dominated strategically by new 
Greco-Macedonian cities, and these towns remained presumably 
largely under the control of Iranian nobles, with certain Greek 
officials resident there. 2 Around them would have been a network of 
dependent villages, paying their dues, probably very much as 
before, to their Iranian overlords, who would have remitted what 
proportion was demanded of them to the new rulers of the land. 3 
Most peasants, living in such circumstances, probably seldom if 
ever encountered Hellenes, unless they were unlucky enough to 
have Greco- Macedonian troops quartered on them during some 
winter season— an experience calculated to instil nothing but bit- 
terness in their hearts towards these strangers and all their ways. 
Village priests would have shared the lives of their parishioners, 
remaining equally remote from the conquerors' world; and in such 
rural communities no new influences are likely to have affected the 
accustomed practice of their ancestral religion. 

The Hellenistic cities likewise stood within a network of depen- 
dent villages, for the Seleucids chose for them sites where there was 
good farmland already in cultivation, to ensure their prosperity. 
Groups of peasants might therefore be turned off" the actual land on 
which the city was built; and others might lose their holdings in the 
region around its walls, which would be divided up and distributed 
in lots to the new citizens. "An ancient : city' should always be 
considered together with the land, fields and woods which supplied 
it". 4 What happened to peasants thus made landless can only be 
guessed at; but some may have been reduced to virtual bondage, 
working for the colonists in what were now their fields. 5 

In the villages round about, lying beyond the lands immediately 
appropriated for the new city, the peasants were presumably 
encouraged to continue working their fields, so as to be able to pay 
dues to it in kind. Sometimes at least guard-posts appear to have 

2 E. Bikerman, Institutions, 164-6; P. Briant, Rois, tribute el paysans, 258-9. 
Bikerman points out that the only old town whose structure under the Seleucids is 
fully known is Jerusalem, where the "nation of the Jews" was governed by its 
priests and aristocrats, who had autonomy with regard to its affairs. 

a Briant, o.c, pp. 241—4. 

4 Robert, Villes d'Asie Mineure, 371; cf. Bikerman, o.c, p. 160, 

5 Briant, o.c, p. 239. 



been built here and there outside a city's walls, both to give 
protection to the villagers in times of danger and to ensure their 
submissiveness. 6 As far as daily life went, however, "it may be 
supposed that neither the status nor the economic condition of the 
native peasants actually underwent any real changes. They would 
have kept their houses, their villages, their families; they would 
have continued to cultivate the fields round their villages; the 
organization of the village community would not have been 
destroyed." 7 Among the things that they retained would have been 
their ever-burning hearth fires, the focus for family devotions, and 
also their local sanctuaries — probably at that period simply places 
on hilltops or by trees or springs which had become holy through 
regular worship there. 

The dealings of such rural communities with their new masters 
would have been collective, and presumably the headman or village 
elders would have had to learn a little basic Greek; but communica- 
tion is not likely to have been extensive, or to have gone in general 
beyond practical matters. It may thus be reasonably supposed that 
the villagers of Seleucid Iran, whether directly subjected to Hel- 
lenes or working still for Iranian landowners, constituted in the 
main a body of faithful adherents to Zoroastrianism, with little or 
nothing occurring to challenge their traditional beliefs and ways. 
(A parallel may be sought in the better-known conditions of Pales- 
tine, where those wbo in the second century B.C. opposed Antio- 
chus IV's measures to end the exclusive worship of Yahweh found 
their chief support in the country districts, which had little experi- 
ence of the allure of Hellenism. 8 ) 

Conditions for close and continual contacts between the colonists 
and their Iranian subjects clearly existed within the Hellenistic 
cities, for even in those which were wholly new creations there was 
evidently an Asian population, providing labour of various kinds. 
This population was made up presumably partly of local people 
(such as perhaps the dispossessed peasant families), partly some- 
times of captives of war. 9 In the latter case, groups of prisoners, 
enslaved to a new city, might include people of widely differing 

6 Bikerman, I.e.; Briant, o.c, pp. 237-8. 

7 Briant, o.c, p. 237. Cf. ib., pp. 156-8 and Bikerman, o.c, p. 177. 

8 Bevan, House, II 174-5; Schurer, HJP I 156 ff~., 177 ("pro-Hellenism had in 
fact no roots among the people"). 

9 On the reports by Justin (XII.5,12) and Curtius (VII.6.27) of the gift by 
Alexander of the survivors from 3 rased Sogdian towns to his new chy of 
Alexandria-on-the-Jaxartes, see Briant, o.c, pp. 244-6; A. B. Bosworth, "Alexan- 
der and the Iranians", JHS C, 1980, 10-1 1. 





levels of intellect and culture, and diverse callings, among them 
priests. The Hellenistic citizen body for its part was also heteroge- 
neous, for the colonists who came out from Greece to join the 
Macedonian veterans and Greek mercenaries were mixed family 
groups, 10 with the penniless and land-hungry sharing the venture 
with people of some means and education, including philosophers, 
poets and rhetors, doctors and teachers, and instructors in various 
skills." Moreover, as their proper names show, they came from 
different regions. Most of those from Macedonia and Greece prob- 
ably had little or no previous knowledge of Iranians, while others 
from Ionia might have inherited a familiarity with aspects of their 
culture going back over generations. Despite all such diversity, 
surviving inscriptions show that educated Hellenes among the 
settlers spread a pure, living Greek culture, city by eity, right across 
Seleucid Iran, a fact that has been demonstrated by excavations of 
two towns on opposite flanks of the land — to the south-west (in 
modern Iraq) the eastern Seleucid capital of Seleucia-on-the- 
Tigris, to the north-east (in modern Afghanistan) the nameless polis 
known from a village nearby as A'i Khanum. 12 This urban Hellen- 
ism, extinguished relatively early in some plaees, flourished in 
others all through the period of Seleucid domination. Yet despite its 
evident strength, it is difficult to say how much it affected Iranians, 
even locally. In the early years, even if chances of war brought 
Asians of intellect and ability within the walls of a Hellenistic city, 
it is unlikely that they would have had in general any close contact 
with their European counterparts there. The groups of Hellenes, 
however heterogeneous, were united through ail belonging to the 
conquering people and through sharing the same privileges — 
privileges from which others who lived within the city were largely 
or entirely excluded. 13 There was moreover the language barrier 
(which if it was to be overcome had in general, it seems, to be 
assailed from the Iranian side, by the subjects not the rulers). 14 

10 Briant, ox., p. 255 with n. 24. 

Robert, "Une bilingrie greco-arameenne d'Asoka", JA 1958, 13. 
For monographs on individual groups of finds from Seleucia (exeavated up to 
1939 by L. Waterman) see volumes in (he University of Michigan Studies, 
Humanistic Series, by N. Debevoise (Vol. 32), R. H. McDowell (Vols. 36, 37), 
and W. van Ingen (Vol. 45); and more generally Clark Hopkins, ed., Topography 
and architecture of Seleucia on the Tigris, Ann Arbor, 1973 For A'i Khanom see 
below, p. 157 n. 21. 

" Briant, o.c, pp, 236, 261-2. 

" A. Momigliano, Alien Wisdom, 7-8, 81, 149. In general, "while the Greeks 
did not have to know the native languages, most of the natives did not have to 
know Greek", E. Bickerman, Religions and politics in the Hellenistic and Roman 
periods, Como 1985, 507. 

Matters were plainly rather different in those Hellenistic cities 
which were refoundations of old Asian towns. Here too there was a 
physical separation of conquerors and conquered, with the Euro- 
peans, presumably generally a minority, living sometimes in a 
fortified citadel, sometimes in a separate quarter, 15 and again 
constituting the main citizen body, governing in its own interests; 
but here the old town had its own traditions and its sacred places, 
some of ancient and impressive dignity; and inscriptions from 
Seleucia-on-the-Eulaios (Susa) show that in the second century 
Hellenes there paid honour to the goddess Nanaia even more 
sedulously, if the relative number of inscriptions can be trusted as 
evidence, than to their own divinities. 16 This is in accord with the 
general readiness of individual Greeks to worship and propitiate 
the gods of the countries in which they settled. Yet the city 
authorities of Susa never officially recognized Nanaia by putting 
her image on any of their coins; 17 and surviving city records show 
that, however many individual accommodations and contaets came 
to be made there between Hellenes and Asians, "the descendants of 
the first Macedonian and Greek colonists were able, throughout the 
Hellenistic period and down to about the mid first century B.C., to 
remain the controlling group of the city, and to preserve the Greek 
character of their institutions". 18 The tenacity of the Hellenes is 
attested also at Dura-Europos, where "throughout the entire 
Parthian period the founder of the city, Seleucus I, was held in 
honour. Especially striking is the retention of the leading urban 
magistracies by 'Europaioi', i.e. Macedonians, right down to the 
end of the city's existence", that is, to 256 A.C. 19 

How the Asians were organized who lived in these cities remains 
obscure. Occasionally chosen individuals may have been granted 
citizenship, while the rest, once the harshness and uncertainties of 
the settlement period were over, at least lived from day to day in 
contact with the urban Greek way of life, and shared in it to an 
undefined extent. "Although the Seleucids had no definite purpose 
of hellenising Asia, mere contiguity naturally produced some 
effect," 20 In minor Hellenistic cities, such as those which evolved 
from military colonies, Asians may have taken a greater part in 

15 Le Rider, Suse, 280-1; Briant, o.c, pp. 258-9. 

16 Gf. above, pp. 37-8 

17 Le Rider, o.c, pp. 292-3. 

18 lb., p. 287. 

19 V. G. Lukonin, CHIr. III.2, 716-17. 

20 VV. W. Tarn and G. T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilisation, London 1952, 159. 
"The cities, not the kings, hellcnized the East", Bickerman, o.c, p. 508. 





public life and civil administration. There too there would usually 
have been a gymnasium, "the centre of both physical and intellec- 
tual training for the common man", 21 and the official language was 
always Greek. A number of Iranians, it seems, came therefore to 
study Greek seriously, if Plutarch is at all to be trusted when he 
writes: "Homer was commonly read, and the children of the 
Persians, of the Susianians, and of the Gedrosians learned to chant 
the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides". 22 

Cultural contacts with Hellenism evidently extended beyond city 
walls as far as Iranian nobles were concerned. Archaeological finds 
show that they became patrons of Greek craftsmen, plainly enjoy- 
ing their artefacts; and some members of their class entered fully 
into the world of the conquerors. As we have seen, the sons of 
certain Persian nobles who served Alexander themselves took part, 
as troop-commanders, in the Successors' Wars; 23 and the names 
are recorded of Iranians who held high position, as army officers or 
administrators, under the Seleucids 24 (although proportionately to 
the Greeks and Macedonians they were very few in number 25 ). 

At a humble social level, Iranians served in the Seleucid armies, 
probably both as individual mercenaries and in auxiliary troops 
furnished by a particular city or region. 26 Sources concerning these 
troops are meagre; but Persis is known to have provided archers 
and slingers and drivers of scythe-wheeled war-chariots, while the 
Medes were famed for their cavalry. 27 Sometimes these troops were 
commanded by Hellenes, sometimes by their own leaders; but they 
were presumably always accompanied by their own priests, to pray 
for victory and to perform at least minimal rites for the dead and 
dying. In religious terms they probably lived therefore fairly much 
to themselves; but they must have witnessed some of the Greek 
rituals regularly performed before and after battle, and they per- 
haps experienced, through contact with other ethnic groups, a 
certain loosening of their own traditional beliefs. But for whatever 

21 Tarn, GBI, 18 (q.v. pp. 6-9, 19-22 on the military colony evolving into a 
polls). On the gymnasium (with its obligatory nakedness during physical exercise) 
as a barrier between Greeks and non-hellenized Orientals see Bickerman, o.c, 
p. 512. 

22 Of the fortune of Alexander, 1.5. 

23 Above, p. 18. 

21 M. Launey, Recherches sur les armees hellenistiques, I, 565-6, 557; H. 
Bengtson, "Die Bedeutung der Eingeborenenbevolkerung in den hellenistischen 
Oststaaten", Welt als Geschichte, 1951, 136-7. 

25 Cf. Schmitt, Untersuchungen, 100. 
Bikerman, Institutions, 89. 

37 Launey, o.c, pp. 568—9: Bikerman, o.c, p. 60. 

reasons, the Seleucids do not appear to have recruited large num- 
bers of Iranians, and so the influence of these soldiers, when 
disbanded, on Iranian society is not likely to have been great — 
Conversely, the Seleucids may well have taken over at least one 
military custom from the Achaemenians, that of requiring soldiers, 
in taking an oath of loyalty, to invoke not only the gods but also 
"the Fortune (Tyche) of King Seleucus". The phrasing of this 
"royal oath", attaching the army to each individual ruler, probably 
embodied the Iranian concept of the kingly kkvarenah. 2 * 

In Iranian civil life generally the patterns established under the 
Achaemenians were not much changed. The largest administrative 
groups were still the satrapies, which corresponded broadly with 
Iranian ethnic and linguistic divisions; and their natural tendency 
to separatism was favoured by the structure of the Seleucid empire, 
which consisted essentially of "a king, an army, and a 
bureaucracy . . . Even before the final dissolution any satrapy 
could easily set up for itself . . . because the governor of a satrapy 
had an organisation ready to his hand . . ., while the Greek cities or 
settlements in his territory were only separate units and not parts of 
a whole". 29 Such a governor possessed, it seems, his own basileion or 
palace residence; and visits there by the Iranian noblemen of the 
region must have been one means of making them familiar with 
Hellenistic culture and appreciative of its material and aesthetic 
aspects. It is also very possible that such obligatory contacts 
extended to high priests, men of wealth and standing in the Iranian 
community over whom the Macedonian governors probably sought 
to exercise some measure of control. 

The scribes 

For administrative and fiscal purposes the satrapies were subdi- 
vided, the basic unit for taxation being the hyparchy; 30 and eaeh 
hyparchy possessed a land-register, written in Greek, which gave 
the boundaries of the villages and properties in it. 31 The men who 
compiled these registers were presumably in the satrap's employ; 
but they must have needed to consult local people, and among 
those most likely to have been able to aid them were Iranian scribes 
serving the local landowners. At this time the Iranian languages 

Bikerman, ox., p. 97. Gf. above, p. 13 with n. 59- 
Tarn, GBI, 4. 

See with bibliography Frye, History, 155-6 with nn. 47-9, 
Tarn-Griffiths, o.c, p. 133. 





themselves were not yet being written. 32 Iranian scribes were 
trained to read and write Aramaic, which had been the lingua franca 
of the Middle East before the Macedonian conquest. This they then 
translated aloud into the local Iranian language for their aliterate 
employers, for whom writing was a craft, not an accomplishment 
for a gentleman. Many of them must now also have learned enough 
of the new lingua franca, Greek, to deal on their masters' behalf with 
the new officialdom and its demands, acquiring for this purpose at 
least a basic vocabulary, and a knowledge of terms for figures, 
weights and measures etc. Yet in only one satrapy, Bactria, did 
they abandon written Aramaic in favour of written Greek. Else- 
where the tradition of writing in Aramaic was kept up among the 
Iranians themselves; but since there was no longer, as in Achaeme- 
nian days, a central imperial chancellery where Aramaic was used 
and by which a single standard was maintained, local idiosyncra- 
sies gradually crept into the usage of scribal schools in the different 
satrapies, as subsequent developments show. 

The importance of these facts for the history of Zoroastrianism is 
twofold. First, the scribes were close to the priests, 53 and the 
regional separation which these developments attest may therefore 
be taken to indicate a measure of separation also between the 
priesthoods of the different satrapies. Alexander's conquest having 
ended the ecclesiastical as well as the political domination of 
Persia, the different Iranian peoples now became free again to 
practise and uphold the Zoroastrian religion each according to 
their own convictions and needs. 

The scribes' adherence to the Aramaic language is important 
secondly as an instance of the general loyalty of the Iranians to 
traditional ways, and their dogged rejection of new things which 
threatened to replace old ones. Much of what Hellenism brought 
offered no such threat, being wholly novel, and acceptable as an 
enrichment to life; but in the sphere of religion Hellenistic beliefs 
encountered Iranian ones, which were both very old and im- 
mensely complex and strong. 

extent enforced contact with Hellenes, were the minstrel-poets of 
Iran, practitioners of an ancient native craft, whose contribution to 
resisting Hellenism is likely to have been very great. They culti- 
vated, with professional skill, the art of extemporising verses to 
music, an art which required them both to learn by heart traditional 
themes and forms of expression, and to compose afresh upon new 
subjects. 34 There is some evidence for the influence exerted by 
minstrels in Achaemenian times, and for the esteem in which they 
had then been held; 35 and the importance of court eulogists is 
shown by Gurtius' description of Babylon's surrender to Alexan- 
der, for in the procession that went out to meet the conqueror, he 
records, magi and Chaldean priests were followed by a whole group 
of musicians, "accustomed to sing the praises of the king". 36 The 
privileges and rewards of these court minstrels must have ended 
abruptly with Alexander's conquest; for whatever else the Macedo- 
nian took over from the Persian kings, patronage of Iranian min- 
strelry is not likely to have been included. Nor was the Hellenistic 
city a place to provide Iranian poets with a livelihood. Minstrels 
must therefore have pursued their traditional calling under the 
Seleucids among Iranians only, with presumably neither wish nor 
need to have dealings with their country's new masters. 

Later evidence shows how wide was the range of their poetry, 
and how influential the part which they played in an aliterate, 
intelligent and music-loving society; for they were not only enter- 
tainers, giving pleasure to nobleman and peasant alike; they were 
present on all occasions of note, observing, recording, and giving 
expression to common emotions and thoughts; by turns eulogists, 
satirists and story-tellers, historians of the past and commentators 
on their own times — -and hence to a large extent the shapers of 
opinion. Some minstrels were probably wanderers, and well-turned 
verses could also travel, passed appreciatively from mouth to 
mouth; and so these poets had a part too in spreading news. Many- 
verses of lamentation must have been composed and repeated after 
the battles of Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela, after the burning of 

The minstrel-poets 

In sharp contrast to the scribes, maintaining the alien art of 
writing by means of a fossilized foreign tongue, and having to some 

32 There is possibly one example of written Iranian belonging to the Seleucid 
period, i.e. the inscription in Aramaic script at Darius' tomb, see below, pp. 
1 18-20; but this is far from certain. 

33 Cf. above, p. 12 n. 51, 

^ See Boyce, ''The Parthian gosdn and Iranian minstrel tradition", JRAS 1957, 

35 See ib., pp. 19-20. 

36 V.L20-3. Curtius docs not say whether these eulogists were Persians or 
Babylonians, but the former seems more likely. (Melodically, P. G. points out, 
Iranian minstrels arc likely to have learnt much at that epoch from the Babylo- 
nians and other Near Eastern peoples, just as they acquired new musical instru- 
ments, cf. Marcelle Duchesne-Guillemin, "Une marionette d'epoque parthe ct le 
probleme de 1'origine du luth", Oudheidkundige Mededelingen uit het Rijksmu- 
seum van Oudheden te Leiden, 65, 1984-1985, 23-30.) 





Persepolis and the slaughters of Alexander's eastern campaigns; 
and celebrations of feats of individual valour, and dirges for the 
dead, must have helped to keep awake both Iran's pride and her 
sorrow at defeat and alien rule. 

Leading minstrels doubtless found their chief patrons among the 
great Iranian lords. Among these were the Atropatids of Lesser 
Media, independent of Macedonian rule and probably strongly 
anti- Macedonian in sentiment; 37 and the fratarakas of Persis, at 
least one of whom gave violent expression to his hostility to the 
Hellenes. 38 At their courts, and in the halls of like-minded barons, 
minstrels would have pleased both their patrons and themselves by 
composing verses that fanned anti-hellenistic feeling. 39 They are 
likely thus to have made common cause with Iran's priests in 
sustaining national memories and encouraging defiance of the 
foreign infidels and hatred of Alexander. 40 In a number of oral 

" See above, p. 18 and below, p. 69 ff. 
38 See below, pp. 113-14. 

The fact that Iran's former wealth of minstrel poetry is represented only by a 
few works set down in Middle Persian (the official language of the Sasanian 
empire) is no reason for supposing that under the Seleucids only the minstrels of 
Persis were active in using their verses to revive their people's pride and spirit (so 
the pioneer in this matter, S. K. Eddy, The king is dead, 81 ff., whom others have 
followed); for although it was the Persians who had suffered most, in loss of power 
and privilege, through the Macedonian conquest, all Iranians had experienced 
defeat and almost all were living under continuing alien rule, and there were 
minstrels everywhere. 

The story about Alexander's birth which appears in Iranian versions of the 
Alexander romance (on which see M. N. Southgate, Iskandarnamah, a Persian 
medieval Alexander-Romance, New York 1978, 167— 85) belongs to a later age. 
According to it, Alexander was the elder half-brother of Darius III, born of a 
union between that king's father and a Macedonian princess. She became dis- 
pleasing to her husband and was sent back by him to her native land, being 
(unknown to him) with child. There she bore Alexander, whose true parentage 
was concealed because of the disgrace of her rejection. Alexander was thus the 
rightful heir to the Achaemenian throne, and in conquering Iran was doing no 
more than claiming his inheritance. This story was apparently invented in early 
Islamic times in imitation of the Egyptian one preserved by Pseudo-Callisthenes, 
which made Alexander's real father the last Egyptian pharaoh. This Egyptian 
fabrication was evidently reproduced in the lost Pahlavi version of Pseudo- 
Callisthenes (on which see Noldeke, Beitrage zur Geschichte des Alexanderro- 
mans, Denkschriften d. kaiserlichen Akad. d. Wiss zu Wien, 1890, 11 IF.), for it is 
found in its 6th-century Syriac translation. It thus came to offer a challenge to 
Iranian patriotism, and the parallel Iranian fiction was presumably forged in 
response to it. It is first found in the Shahnama (ed. Beroukhim, V, pp. 1779—82); 
but Firdausi, although he uses the Lale, nevertheless tells of Alexander's conquest 
of Iran in profoundly sorrowful terms, thus underlining how incompatible this late 
fiction was with the genuine Iranian tradition of Alexander the accursed, "born to 
trouble the order of the world", which Chardin found still alive among the 
Zoroastrians of Iran in the 17th century (see his Voyages en Perse, ed. L. Langles, 
Paris 1811, VIII, 377-8, cited by Darmesteter, "La legende d'Alexandre chez les 

literatures, including that of ancient Iran, priestly and minstrel 
traditions tend in any case to be partly interdependent, each 
contributing themes to the other. 41 In the Seleucid period Median 
minstrels almost certainly helped to celebrate the miracles and 
legends of Adur Gusnasp, drawing thus ever more pilgrims to its 
shrine;* 2 and minstrels generally contributed presumably to the 
dissemination of an essentially religious apocalyptic literature, 
interweaving political prophecies of the downfall of the Macedo- 
nians with visions of the end of time in a way that was doubtless 
deeply satisfying to their Zoroastrian listeners, and earned them 
good rewards. Since this type of poetry seems linked with, or 
paralleled by, that of the Persian Sibyllists, consideration of it will 
be deferred to a later chapter.* 3 

Hellenes and the Iranian religion 

It has been assumed by not a few scholars that Alexander 
deliberately fostered a syncretism between Zoroastrian ism and the 
Hellenistic religion as part of his supposed policy of bringing 
Persians and Hellenes together; but there is no evidence for this. 
On the contrary, as we have seen, 44 his treatment of the Iranian 
religion appears to have been marked by a quite unusual neglect. 
Elsewhere he is recorded to have honoured alien divinities and 
bestowed gifts on their temples; 45 and in this the Seleucids followed 
him. They are known to have made generous donations and 
offerings to temples in Greece and Asia Minor, Syria. Mesopota- 
mia, Babylon and Egypt. 45 The one country for which there is no 
information in this respect — because of the general dearth of re- 
cords there for the period — is Iran; but it is reasonable to assume 
that they acted in the same way there also, with Seleucus I and 
Antiochus I, husband and son respectively of the evidently much 
loved Apama, probably setting an example of generosity to the 
priests and temples of that lady's natal land.* 7 

Parses", Essais Orientaux, Paris 1883, 232, followed by M. Southgate, o.c, 
p. 189). — To Southgate's bibliography are to be added A. Abel, "La figure 
d'Alexandre en Iran , La Persia e il mondo Greco-Romano, Rome 1966, ll°-36; 
J. A. Boyle, "The Alexander legend in Central Asia," Folklore 85, 1974, 21 7-28. 

41 See Chadwick, Growth of Literature, I 134, III 758 ff.; and for such 
interdependence in Avestan literature, briefly, HZ I 100 with n. 96. 

" See below, p. 74 ff. 

43 See below, p. 371 ff. 

" Above, p. 12. 

45 See above, loc. cit. 

w Bikerman, Institutions, 250-1. 

47 On the likelihood that Antiochus gave gifts to the Anahit temple at Phrygian 



The fact that the only record of Seleucid dealings with an Iranian 
temple (that of "Aine" at Ecbatana 43 ) is of their despoiling it does 
not tell against this assumption; for according to Greek ideas the 
state — and the Seleucid king was the state — could always at times 
of need make use of the possessions of its gods; and a number of 
temples in other parts of the Seleucid empire — including that of 
Zeus in Antioch itself — suffered in similar ways, 49 

Yet though the Seleucids, except when financially hard pressed, 
appear beneficent towards all religions, there is no trace of their 
fostering any syncretism or attempting in such a way to evolve a 
religion of state. These were the days still of ethnic religions, and to 
the end the Seleucids remained Macedonians, venerating and 
swearing by their own ancestral gods — Apollo and Artemis Daittai 
and others — for whom the lavishly appointed sanctuaries at 
Daphne near Antioch were created by the dynasty. 50 

Ordinary colonists lived more closely than their kings with local 
communities; and inscriptions from Susa show that there some 
Hellenes came sincerely to venerate Asian gods. 51 For Iran proper 
the evidence is very slight; but in Bactria Ionians from Magnesia- 
on-the-Maeander evidently identified their own minor river-god 
Marsyas with the Spirit of the Oxus (Wakhs), and a truly syncretic 
cult appears to have developed. 52 Among major divinities there is 
only one instance where the identification of a Greek being with an 
Iranian yazala seems to have led to some genuine commingling of 
concepts, with on the Iranian side a small measure of lasting 
influence being perhaps felt. This is the identification of Heracles 
with Verethraghna, the yazata of Victory. Heracles was evidently 
enormously popular with the Seleucids' Hellenic subjects, for a 
whole variety of reasons. Alexander had claimed him as his ances- 
tor, and was sometimes represented in the guise of the god-hero. 
The Seleucids, as Alexander's heirs, maintained Heracles' cult 
together with that of their own supposed divine progenitor, Apollo, 
thus ensuring that it was officially observed throughout their 
realms, in cities and by armies. It is probably his head, bearded 

Apamea see below, pp. 213-14. F, G. entertains the possibility that this king 
founded the temple of Takht-i Sangm (see below, pp. xxx) 
*° See below, pp. 90-1. > FP / 

Bikerman, o.c. ; pp. 121-2. Schmitt (Untersuchungen, 101 n, I) was never- 
theless justified in questioning Wikander's statement (Feuerpriester, 73) that "the 
Seleucids always showed interest in the religion of their Persian subjects" since 
evidence is lacking. 

50 Bikerman, o.c, pp. 251-3. 

51 See above, pp. 37-8. 

M See below, pp. 177, 179-81. 



and bound with a twisted cord, which appears on a number of 
copper coins of Susa. 53 He is shown also, seated or standing, on 
numerous issues of the GrecoBactrian kings. 34 As a fighter and 
wanderer, Heracles had moreover a natural claim on the devotion 
of soldiers and of travel] ers, as is exemplified by the making of a 
little wayside shrine to him at Behistun on the eve of battle. 55 One 
of his triumphs is represented on an ivory hilt at Takht-i Sangin, 
where he is shown overpowering Silenus, the two being locked in 
hand-to-hand struggle; 56 and as the hero of many more such 
contests he was looked to as their patron by wrestlers and athletes 
generally (some of whom, being professionals, were wanderers too). 
Further, he and Hermes, patron of travellers, were jointly gods of 
the gymnasium, and thus doubly shared functions. An inscription 
discovered in the gymnasium of Ai Khanom honours both these 
divinities. 57 The ruins of that city have yielded also a bronze 
statuette of Heracles; 58 and terracotta figurines of the god have 
been found in Iran itself 59 , and in quantity at Dura-Europos 60 and 
Seleucia-on-the-Tigris. 61 He was invoked for protection at city 
gates and, with standard forms of words, at the doorways of private 

53 Le Rider, Suse, 289. 

54 P. Bernard and C. P. Juliien, "Halteres votives de lutteurs dans le Gandh- 
ara", St. Ir. 11, 1982, 43 n. 31, and below, pp. 160, 161. 

55 See below, pp. 93-4. 

56 B. A. Litvinskiy and I. R. Pichikiyan, "The temple of the Oxus", JRAS 1981, 
157 with PI. V. The theme persisted locally, for a terracotta figurine of the 
3rd-4th centuries A. C. has been found at Kara-Picok in what was once northern 
Bactria, which, though a debased representation of it, still shows the essential 
features — Silenus seized by the hair, Heracles with brandished club and lion's 
paws knotted round his neck. See N. M. Vinograndova and L. T. P'jankova, 
Arxeologiceskie Raboty v Tadzikistane XVII, 1983, 65—8; and E. V. Zejmal 
(ed.), Drevnosti Tadzikistana, Dushanbe 1985, 134-5, no. 359. 

" L. Robert apud P. Bernard, Fouilles d'Ai Khanoum I, 208-11; and in detail 
on Heracles as patron of wrestlers in the Hellenistic east Bernard -Juliien, art. cit., 
pp. 33-^7. 

58 Bernard, CRAI 1974, 302 with fig. 13. 

M Fryc, Heritage, PI. 71. 

M S. B. Downey, "The Heracles sculpture" in The Excavations at Dura- 
Europos, Final Report 111, Pt. 1.1, New Haven 1969, 56-9. 

W. von Ingen, Figurines from Seleucia on the Tigris, Ann Arbor 1939, 
106-8 with PI. XVIII. Consideration of the recent discovery there of a Heracles 
statue with a bilingual Greek and Parthian inscription on the body belongs to HZ 
IV. On it see W. I. Al-Salihi, "The Weary Hercules of Mesene". Mesopotamia 
XXII, 1987, 159-67 with figs. 57-67; F, A. Pennacchietti, "L'inscrizione 
bilingue greco-partica delF Eracle di Seleucia", ib., pp. 169-86: papers by J. 
Greenfield and E. Morano in the Proceedings of the Third Conference of SIE, 
Turin 1987, to be published by IsMEO; and P. Bernard, "Vicissitudes au gre de 
Thistoire d'une statuette en bronze d'Heracles entre Seleucie du Tigre et la 
Mesene'\ Jds (forthcoming). Verethraghna was still represented as the naked 
Heracles early in the early Sasanian period, i.e. at Naqs-i Rajab. 



houses; and an inscription of the latter kind is found above a 
cave-entrance at Karafto in Media Atropatene. 62 

The Greeks identified this hero-god of theirs with diverse Asiatic 
divinities; and in India these identifications, with Krishna and 
Siva, seem to have gone beyond the mere translation of names or a 
shared iconography, and to have attained a measure of genuine 
syncretism. 63 The same appears true of the concepts of Heracles 
and his Iranian counterpart, Verethraghna. The link between these 
two was an obvious one, since one of Heracles' standard epithets 
was kallinikos, "victorious"; and on the Iranian side Heracles was 
plainly a being of whom Zoroastrians could approve, a hero who 
had toiled against mighty odds to cleanse the world of monsters. 
The equation is not, however, one of those recorded already in 
Achaemenian times, when Verethraghna is not at all prominent. 
True, he was one of the twenty-seven yazatas to receive a day- 
dedication in the then new liturgical calendar, so that his position 
in the Zoroastrian pantheon was plainly not negligible; but no 
theophoric names are recorded compounded with his, and no 
Greek writer gives him any mention. Perhaps he was then still seen 
primarily (in what seems the spirit of the Young Avesta) as the 
servant, powerful but subordinate, of the just Ahuras. It is only in 
Hellenistic times that he appears, locally at least, as a great 
divinity, elevated by Antiochus I of Gommagene (although for a 
special reason) to be the third member of a dominant triad, 
together with Ahura Mazda and Mithra. 64 In subsequent epochs 
his name (as Varahran, Vahram, Bahram) was popular as a 
personal one with kings and commoners alike, and he had grown 
evidently to be regarded as a great protector, to be invoked in all 
moments of danger. 65 Specifically, this yazata of Victory had be- 
come, like the wandering Heracles, protector of wayfarers, invoked 
as Panth Yazad, "god of the road", and usurping thus the ancient 
function of Cista, who in time was eclipsed entirely. 66 In two very 
late Zoroastrian texts he is elevated moreover to a position even 
greater than that accorded him at Commagene, since he is named 
in them as the seventh Amesa Spenta (Ahura Mazda not being 
reckoned there as himself one of the Heptad); and the fable is told 
of how he alone was able to bind Anra Mainyu, because he was 

62 See below, pp. 84-5. 

63 See Beraard-JuHien, art. cit., who point out (pp. 44—5) that these identifi- 
cations were made consciously and early by the Greek invaders. 

"- See below, pp. 323, 324. 

65 See Boyce, Stronghold, 70-1. 

66 See ib., p. 70 and HZ II, 62 with n. 267. 



better, greater and more powerful than all the other six. 7 

Plainly this striking and unorthodox promotion of Vahram can- 
not be attributed entirely to the influence of Heracles. More must 
be due to the link which developed between Varahran, yazata of 
Victory in just wars, and the chief category of sacred fires, the Atur 
Varahran or "Victorious Fire"; 68 for these great temple fires were 
seen as tireless fighters against the forces of darkness and evil, 
protecting those who invoked them and made them offerings. The 
association that came to be perceived between them and the yazata 
must therefore have contributed greatly to a belief in him as a 
general guardian, a belief which could of course by itself have come 
to embrace the particular role of guardian of wayfarers. It never- 
theless seems likely that the hugely popular cult of Heracles played 
some part here; and that developments in Zoroastrian ritual and 
devotional life coincided with Greek influence to bring about 
changes in the concept of this oneyazata, so that the later Varahran 
differs considerably from the Avestan god in the nature and scope 
of his functions, and has become one of the most beloved and often 
invoked of all Zoroastrian divinities. 

Otherwise, although there is evidence from the north-east for the 
identification of other Greek gods with Iranian yazatas 69 , there is no 
clear sign of any effective syncretism. Even in Bactria, where 
Greeks and Iranians appear to have co-operated fairly closely, 
there seems to have been no fusion of cults at this epoch (other than 
those of Marsyas-Wakhs), and the temple- worship of the two 

67 See J. de Menasce, "La promotion de Vahram", RHR 133, 1948, 5-18. The 
2 texts in question are written one in Zoroastrian Persian in Arabic script, the 
other in a Pahlavi that appears to have been reconstructed from a lost Pazand 
text. Menasce was clearly right in holding that some apparently late texts preserve 
ancient materials; but this promotion of Vahram is so bizarre, and so much at 
variance with the central Zoroastrian doctrine of the Heptad (on which see HZ I 
194, 199 ff.; BSOAS XLVII, 1984, 159-61) that it is impossible to regard these 
particular works as other than essentially late, composed probably at a time when 
the Arab conquest had enhanced devotion lo Bahram, thcyazata to whom the 
beleaguered Zoroastrian community addressed many prayers for a reversal of its 
misfortunes. This is confirmed by a detail to which Dr, G. Kreyenbroek kindly 
drew my attention, that in one of them (Menasee, art. cit., p. 10) the daevic verb 
drayid is quite improperly used for the utterances of Ohrmazd and the Amahras- 

68 See HZ II 222-5. The interpretation put forward there (of the original 
significance of the name of this category of temple fire being "Victorious Fire" 
rather than "Fire of Verethraghna") has been accepted by Dastur Dr. Firoze M. 
Kotwal, who found the argument convincing that Verethraghna is not in any way 
conspicuous in the rituals of consecration of such fires. The suggestion that the 
confusion between adjective and divine name did not develop until Islamic times 
must, however, be abandoned. It clearly took place long before then. 

M See below, pp. 161-5. 



peoples remained apparently distinct. 70 Greek influence was prob- 
ably important, however, in encouraging more building of temples 
and setting up of statues 71 . These developments, extending through- 
out Iran, are likely to have sharpened an awareness of theyazatas as 
individual beings rather than as collegial members of a pantheon, 
called into being by Ahura Mazda and wholly subservient to his 
will. The results can be seen in extreme form outside Iran, with 
Anahit acquiring in Asia Minor a quasi-independent cult, and 
Mithra's worship producing a wholly independent offshoot in the 
mysteries which bore his name. 

Hellenistic practice may also have influenced the Zoroastrians of 
Iran in one small detail of their funerary observances. This was an 
area where Iranian and Greek usages diverged completely. Yet 
from the following epochs {both Parthian and Sasanian) a number 
of interments have been found, some of disarticulated bones, some 
of entire skeletons, which were accompanied by a single coin, 
placed sometimes, it seems, in the corpse's mouth. 73 Not all these 

70 See below, p. 165 ff. 

71 It is presumably largely due to Zoroastrian iconoclasm in the Sasanian 
period that no such cult statues survive in Iran itself; but there is the statement 
that in Armenia all statues were made by Greeks (see S. der Nersessian, "Une 
apologie des images du septieme siecle", Byzantion XVII, 1944—1945, 75); and 
representations on coins and in rock reliefs of the Parthian and Sasanian periods 
suggest a lasting Greek influence on the images oiyazatas. — With regard to the use 
of images in Zoroastrian worship, introduced under the Achaemeniaiis, Gnoli, 
ZTH, 220—1. somewhat distorts the present writer's interpretation of subsequent 
developments (see Boyce, "Iconoclasm among the Zoroastrians", Studies for 
Morton Smith at 60, ed. J, Neusner, Leiden 1975, IV, 93-111) in assuming that 
she postulated the existence thereafter, for some 300 years, of 2 distinct groups of 
Zoroastrians, one attending fire-temples, the other image-shrines. Such a theory 
would indeed belong to the world of academic fantasy rather than to the realities 
of ordinary life. Here and there, there may have been families with so strict an 
orthopractic tradition that their members never visited image-shrines; but the 
community in general, one may be sure, would have offered worship to both divine 
images and sacred fires, the 2 cults (both in different degrees innovations of the 
Achaemenian period) being often, it seems, housed in the one temple or temple 
complex (see below, pp. 80—1, 178-9, 235-6). Still today Zoroastrians of the 
Yazdi neighbourhood maintain separately both fire-temples and (empty) shrines 
to ihtyazads, and worship in both, see Boyce, Stronghold, Ch, 4. — Gnoli further 
(I.e.) argues against the iconoclasm of the Sasanians on the grounds that they had 
anthropomorphic representations of divine beings; but he is unable to cite any 
instance of their using images in worship, which is the crucial point. Evidence for 
Sasanian iconoclasm is fairly abundant, from diverse sources; and even if this were 
not so, it is difficult to see how else the fact could be accounted for that cult-images 
were used under the Arsacids, and, locally, far into the Sasanian period, but had 
entirely disappeared by the time of the Islamic conquest, tojudge from the silence 
of Muslim polemicists on this matter. 

J. Hansman and D. Stronach, "A Sasanian repository at Shahr-i Qumis", 
JRAS 1970, 148; A. D. H. Bivar, "The Sasanian coin from Qumis", ib., p. 157 
(with reference to earlier finds); A. McNicoll, "Excavations at Kandahar, 1975", 



interments (which occur over an area from Susa in the west to 
Arachosia and Bactria in the east) are to be identified as Zoroast- 
rian. but those of disarticulated bones may safely be held to be so. 
The custom has been seen to represent the Greek one of putting 
"Charon's obol" on the tongue of a dead person as ferry-money for 
crossing the Styx, a custom borrowed supposedly by Iranians in 
Seleucid times. The traditional Zoroastrian gifts for the dead were 
food and clothing; 73 and it is undoubtedly possible that, as money 
became more widely used under the Macedonians, Iranians learnt 
from Hellenes to add a coin to their provision for the departed. It is 
also possible, however, that they came to make this extra offering 
independently of the Greek observance, which appears by no 
means to have been commonly practised. Still today among Zoro- 
astrians in the Yazdi area it is customary to bless a piece of silver, 
or a silver coin, and place it with the food and clothing consecrated 
on the third night after death for the use of the departed spirit; 7 * so 
if there was Greek influence at work here, it has lasted long. 

Zoroastrians and Hellenism 

Excavations have established that in Iran, as we have seen, the 
well-to-do took pleasure in Greek artefacts and patronised Greek 
craftsmen; and it may well be that here and there — most probably, 
it would seem, in old towns refounded as Greek cities — there were 
groups of Iranians who became fully hellenized in speech and 
habits, and who embraced all things Greek, including Greek reli- 
gion. This is well known to have happened among Jews in Jeru- 
salem at this time. In general, however, all the indications are that 
the majority of Iranians, like the majority of the other subject 
peoples in the various Macedonian kingdoms, remained faithful to 
their own religious beliefs and practices, coming under no pressure 
from their rulers to do otherwise. 75 (Antiochus I V's actions towards 
the Jews in this respect were wholly exceptional.) The Iranians 
were in a strong position with regard to religion, since theirs was a 
credal one, with well-defined doctrines brought home to them 
through regular observances. They had also professional priests, 

Afghan Studies I, 1978, 51; J. M. Balcer, "Excavations at Tal-i Malyan: Parthian 
and Sasanian coins and burials", Iran XVI, 1978, 86—92; and for additional 
materials from Central Asia, with reference to Russian literature, F. Grenet, 
"Burial in ancient Iran", Elr. IV 559-61. 
n Yt.13.17. 

74 See Boyce, Stronghold, 154-5. 

75 See, e.g., the succinct survey by F. M. Abel, Histoire de la Palestine. I 266 ff. 




who were doubtless zealous in trying to protect the community 
from infidel contamination. One potent means of keeping Iranians 
apart from the foreign settlers existed in the purity laws. To define, 
discuss and develop these would then have been a natural priestly 
preoccupation. Thus in Palestine at this epoch new prescriptions 
were given out, designed to keep orthodox Jews pure and separate 
from the intruding Gentiles 76 ; and many Egyptian writings of this 
time stress the harmful impurity of foreigners.' 7 The chief Avestan 
text on the purity laws is the Vendidad, a composite work which 
contains matter from various periods; but there is a trace in it of 
apparent Hellenistic influence in the appearance there, beside 
traditional Iranian terms for measures of distance, of others for 
short lengths of measurement which correspond closely to the 
Greek system. 711 

Within the Iranian satrapies, moreover, Zoroastrianism, since it 
was part of the national heritage, could call on patriotic loyalty for 
its support. In the colonists' religion it met — in so far as they 
encountered at all — a tolerant polytheism, with a collection of 
beliefs rather than a system of doctrines, no professional priests, 
and no urge to proselytize. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that 
the Iranian religion yielded little to the European one. This is 
partly to be inferred from the harmony between Zoroastrian beliefs 
and usages of the pre- and post-Seleucid epochs; and partly to be 
established by direct evidence, a meagre but valuable mixture of 
literary and archaeological data. The distribution of these data is 
uneven, with for some areas, such as Garmania (Kerman), nothing 
being as yet known of either Iranians or Hellenes under the 
Seleucids; but where materials exist, they will be discussed region 
by region in the following chapters. 

76 See Abel, o.c., 1 220. 

77 See P. Derchain in Hellenism and the rise of Rome, ed. P. Grimal, 216. 

78 W. B. Henning. "An astronomical chapter of the Bundahisn", JRAS 1942, 
235—6. It is usual to assign the Vd. purity texts to the Parthian rather than the 
Seleucid period, which is generally passed over in silence in histories of Zoroastri- 
anism; but purity laws are much more likely to have been a matter for preoccupa- 
tion in a time of foreign dominance than when Zoroastrians were ruling Iran, cf. 
their importance in the Persian Rivayats, composed under Islamic government. 
(There appears, admittedly, to have been a notable concern with purity rites in 
the late Sasanian period, see Boyce, "Cleansing in Zoroastrianism", Elr. V (in 

£ress), and iL Padydb and nerang: two PaMavi terms further considered", BSOAS 
IV. 2, 1991 (in press); but probably the existence then of a newly written-down 
Vd. gave scope for intensive study of this work, with a consequent extension of 



Media Atropatene 

Atropates or Atrapata, who now gave his name to Lesser Media 
as Media Atropatene (later Adarbadagan, Azarbaijan), had been 
satrap of all Media, possibly by hereditary succession, under 
Darius III. After that king's death he swore fealty to Alexander and 
in due course received back his satrapy/ which he governed 
throughout the latter years of the Macedonian's brief reign. He had 
been actively loyal to Iran's conqueror, 2 and with a daughter 
married to Alexander's close friend, Perdiccas 3 , should have felt his 
position reasonably secure. It was surely then with bitterness of 
heart that under the Successors this clearly very able man found 
himself deprived of the greater part of the rich domain he had long 
governed, being left with only its isolated north-west corner, 4 This 
corner forms, together with neighbouring Arran and Armenia, the 
"region of the high plains" 5 , a fractured plateau of which great 
blocks have sunk, becoming rilled with shallow lakes. 6 Among these 
is Urmia, the "largest permanent sheet of water in Iran", 7 bor- 
dered by zones of fertile land. It and other lakes of the region are 
fed by rivers draining down from the plateau, from which three 
volcanic mountains rise majestically: in Atropatene itself the huge 
Mt. Savalan to the north-east of Lake Urmia, and Mt. Sahand to 
the east, the former only just surpassed in size by Mt. Ararat to the 
west, which is in Armenia. This was old Mannaean and Urartian 
territory, and in the third century B.C. much of it was probably not 

1 See above, p, 4r. 

2 See above, p. 15. 

3 See above, p. 11. 

4 See above, p. IB. On the geography, archaeology, and pre-Islamic history of 
this region see the articles by X. de Planhol, W. Kleiss and K. Schippmann in Elr. 
Ill 205-24. 

5 Muqaddasi, cited by Le Strange, Eastern Caliphate, 159. n. 1. 

6 Persia, Geographical Handbook Series, B.R. 525 (British Naval Intelligence 
Division}, 1945, t7. 

7 Le Strange, o.c, p. 160. 



yet intensively Iranianized. fl The chief Achaemenian town of the 
region was evidently *Ganzaka, the 'Treasury", later known as 
Ganzak or Ganza; 9 and this has been identified with ruin-mounds 
near the modern town of Miandoab, 10 in a broad river-plain at the 
south-east end of Lake Urmia — a district "at all times celebrated 
for the abundance and excellence of its pastures". 11 Ganzak domi- 
nated the fertile regions around the lake, in which Iranians had 
probably settled in considerable numbers; and it was presumably 
this town, with its Achaemenian official residence and administra- 
tive buildings, that Atropates now made his capital. 12 

An ancient highway (still in use) led up from Babylonia through 
the Zagros mountains, past Ganzak and on to Raga 13 , and another 
road reached the Urmia region from Ecbatana 14 ; but even under 
the Achaemenians traffic along these routes must have been thin 
compared with that along the Khorasan Highway, which, crossing 
Greater Media, linked Babylonia with eastern Iran; and now that 
Atropatene had become a separate province, independent in fact if 
not theory from the Seleucid Empire, such traffic as there had been 
must have been drastically reduced, with trade affected and no 
coming and going of officials. The flow of armies, traders and 
travellers along the Khorasan Highway itself clearly continued in 
full spate during the early Seleucid period, and is 'likely to have 
troubled at least one group of Iranians, namely those Median magi 
who lived with (it seems) their chief magus, the "Zarathustrotema", 
at their holy city of Raga, now transformed into the Greek polis of 
Rhages-Europus. 15 Many of those using the highway in Seleucid 
times would have been Hellenes, or other foreigners in the service 
of Hellenes, who, halting at Rhages, would have swelled the 
numbers of non-Iranians there. The magi presumably found them- 
selves suffering accordingly in several ways: from alien rule and 
alien exactions; from the proximity of many infidels; and from a 
sharp decrease in the income brought them formerly by Iranian 
pilgrims to their holy city, and by pious Iranian travellers. The 

B Markwart, Provincial Capitals, pp. 22-3, 110. 
' Markwart, Untersuchungen, 160 n. 2. 

« ' ^ V „ M r °^'i5 ith ' "J° urnal of a tour through Azerbijan and the shores of the 
Caspian", JRGS III, 1833, pub. 1834, 5-6. 
|' Ibid. 

12 So Markwart, Provincial Capitals, p. 109. More cautiously V. Minorsky, 
Roman and Byzantine campaigns in Atropatene", BSOAS XI 1944 258-9 
with a sketch-map of the area, PJ. I, opposite p. 250. 

Montekh, o.c, p. 6; Persia, Geographical Handbook Series, p. 548 (Branch 
Route I6A). 

14 Le Strange, Eastern Caliphate, 229-30. 
Cf. above, pp. 23-4 



chief magus of Achaemenian Raga, undoubtedly a man of wealth 
and eminence, would necessarily have had dealings with the Me- 
dian satrap; and the satrap for his part is likely to have benefited 
from the riches of Raga, through dues and gifts. With satrap and 
chief priest alike now finding themselves in altered circumstances, 
it seems a natural step for Atropates, clearly a man of foresight and 
initiative, to have invited the chief magus to leave Raga with his 
priests and their great sacred fire and take up residence under his 
protection in Atropatene. There Zoroastrians could come on pil- 
grimage as before, unharassed, and bringing with them inciden- 
tally wealth. It seems equally natural for the chief magus to have 
accepted such an invitation from a strong and able Zoroastrian 
ruler, an invitation which offered him dignity and security, remote 
from unbelievers. The reason for supposing that this was the course 
of events is that the centre of Median Zoroastrianism did in fact 
shift from famous and holy Raga to remote Atropatene; and that in 
time legends were fostered which made Atropatene itself a holy 
land, which drew Zoroastrian pilgrims from far and wide to its 
shrines. The evidence for these developments is scattered through 
the Pahlavi books and in early Arabo-Persian writings, which 
provide no dates; 16 but the process which brought them about can 
safely be attributed to the Seleucid period, 17 a time when Atro- 
patene had unique importance for the Zoroastrians of Media as the 
only part of their land which remained under Zoroastrian rule; and 
when the interests of its princes and priests, in maintaining the 
religion and developing local centres of pilgrimage, wholly coin- 
cided. The great antiquity of Zoroastrianism meant total un- 
certainty about the actual place of the prophet's birth or ministry, 
and complete ignorance of the real geography of the Avesta; and so 
pious local claims to be the scene of holy events could evolve 

16 For the latter see R.J. H. Gottheil, "References to Zoroaster in Syriac and 
Arabic literature", Classical Studies in honour of H. Drisleiy-New York, 1894, 
24-51; and for the former A. V. W. Jackson, Zoroaster, 191-201 (who also 
reproduces much of GoUheil's materials). See further K. Schippmann, 
FeuerheiUgtumer, 310—25; and for references to scholarlv discussions of some of 
the legends G, Gnoli, ZTH, 23 ff. 

17 Cf. Markwart, Provincial Capitals, p. 110. There is a tendency with some 
scholars to attribute everything mentioned in the Pahlavi books which is not 
attested in the extant Avesta to the Sasanian period; but against this see, e.g. 
Nyberg-, Rel., Ch. 1, who rightly stresses that the Middle Persian writings largely 
represent the final written forms given to a very long and highly diverse Zoroas- 
trian tradition. Moreover (pace Gnoli, De Zoroastre a Mani, 87-8), to suppose 
that, under the Sasanians, Persian priests deliberately fostered new claims for 
Adarbadagan (as distinct from giving established ones preference over those of 
Parthia) is no ignore the evident striving for religious predominance by Persia itself 
at that period. 



relatively easily and, if adequately supported, gain credence. Zoro- 
astrian scholastics tended to respect all traditions, collecting rather 
than critically examining or excluding; so once local legends be- 
came accepted, they were set down, even if they happened to be 
unreconcilable with other established local claims. ,B 

The holy legends of Atropatene/Adarbadagan are alluded to 
repeatedly in the Bundahisn, a major Pahlavi work compiled from 
translations of lost Avestan texts, with accumulated glosses and 
commentaries. There it is said that "when Zoroaster brought the 
religion, he first taught and expounded it in Eranvej", 19 that is, in 
Airyanem Vaejah, the legendary homeland of the "Avestan'* peo- 
ple; while in another passage, which evidently represents a gloss, it 
is stated that "Eranvej is in the region {padkustag) of Adarbadagan". 20 
In accordance with this, a number of Muslim writers attest that (in 
the words of Mas c udi) "Zoroaster was originally from Azarbaijan". 21 
Several associate the prophet specifically with the town of Urmia, 
on the western shore of Lake Urmia. In medieval times this was 
described as an "ancient city, in regard to which the Magians 
(Majus) assert that their founder Zaradust was from it". 22 Qazwini 
further relates that Zoroaster "went to Mount Sabalan, separated 
from men". 2 * The chief mountain of Atropatene was thus brought 
to figure in the legendary life of the prophet (according to which he 
sought solitude in his quest for enlightenment). 24 This association 
has led to speculation that the Median priests may have identified 
the Daryai Rud, which flows down from the north side of Savalan 
to join the Aras, with the holiest river of Zoroastrian tradition, the 
Vakjlhvi Daitya, on whose bank Zoroaster received illumination. 25 
Others think that they made this identification with the Aras itself, 
since this flows directly into the Caspian. This for them was 
presumably the Vourukasa, which according to Avestan tradition 
receives the waters of the Daitya. 26 

As those of Adarbadagan were to be, for example, with those of Bactria, for 
which see Jackson, Zoroaster, 208-19. On the transfer of Av. traditions to 
Azarbaijan see Nyberg, Rel., 401-2. 
19 GBd. XXXV.54. 
™ GBd. XXIX.12; Ind. Bd, XXIX.12. 

Prairies d'Or, ed. Ch. Pellat, Paris 1962-1971, I p. 203 (= Barbier de 
Meynard, II p. 124). 

22 Baladhu^KitabFutuhal-buldan.ed.deGoeje, Leiden 1866 1331 tr F C 
Murgotten, New York 1969, I 27. See Jackson, Zoroaster, 198, for similar 
statements by Ibn Khurdadhbah and Ibn al-FaqJh, cited also by Schippmann 
Feuerheiligtumer, 319-20. ' 

23 Ed. Wustenfeld, Gottingen 1848, II 267 

* WZ XVI.l; Pliny, Nat. Hist., XI.42.97. See Jackson, o.c, p. 34. 

" Jackson, o.c. pp. 194-5. 

26 Herzfeld, AMI II, 1930, 56; Nyberg, Rel., 402. 



The Pahlavi books show that the Median magi also associated 
legends concerning the forbears of Zoroaster's princely patron, 
Kavi Vistaspa, with Atropatene — legends which would have been 
familiar to every learned priest from recitation of the Avestan yasts. 
The starting point for this was perhaps the sanctification of the 
huge and immensely impressive Lake Urmia by identifying it with 
a lake mentioned in the Avesta. That chosen was Caecasta; and the 
Bundahisn preserves the gloss "Lake Cecast is in Adarbadagan". 27 
The little that is said of Caecasta in the Avesta associates it with 
Kavi Haosravah. In Yast 5.49 he is shown praying by it to Aredvi 
Sura Anahita for supremacy over all beings and victory over a 
particular foe; and Yast 19.77 tells how he took vengeance — where 
it is not said — for his father Syavarsan by binding (and presumably 
slaying) Franrasyan. These two themes, of prayer by Lake Caecasta 
and the binding of Franrasyan, are brought together in the rela- 
tively late Yast 9. There in v.18 the yazata Haoma entreats Dru- 
vaspa for this boon, that he may bind Franrasyan and bring him 
captive to Haosravah, and that the latter may slay him by Lake 
Caecasta; and in v. 19 Haosravah himself asks for the boon that he 
may slay Franrasyan by Lake Caecasta. It was this version of the 
old heroic story, in which Haoma plays a part, which was adopted 
by the Median priests, and which was eventually retold in the 
Sahnama. As Firdausi relates it, 28 Horn (Haoma) captures and binds 
Afrasiyab (Franrasyan); but the latter escapes and plunges into 
Lake *Cecast, 29 hiding himself beneath its waters. He is lured into 
standing up and showing himself through hearing the agonised 
cries of his brother, tortured to this end at the lake-shore on the 
orders of Khosrow (Haosravah). Horn, creeping out along a spit of 
land, then lassoos and drags Afrasiyab from the water, and Khos- 
row duly slays him. This version of the Druvasp Yast story is well 
adapted to association with Lake Urmia, which for all its vast 
expanse is remarkably shallow, with "the slope of the shore being 
almost everywhere very gentle", whereas the original Avestan 
Caecasta is characterized as "deep" (Jafm-). 30 

That it was Lake Urmia which was meant here by "Cecast" is 
shown by a later passage in the Safinama y where in an account of 

27 GBd. XIL3. Ind, Bd. XXII. 12. 

28 Sahnama, Beroukhim edition, Tehran 1314/1935, V, p.1386 ff,; tr. Warner, 
IV p. 259 £ 

* Text V p. 1391 1.2317; tr. IV, p. 264 1.5. "Cecast" is deformed in the Arabic 
script as xnjst. The correct reading was restored by H. C. Rawlinson. "Memoir on 
the site of the Atropatenian Ecbatana", JRGS X, 1840, pub. 184-1, 79. 

30 Yt. 5.49. On the shallowness of L. Urmia see Persia (= o.c. in n. 6), p. 50, cf. 
ib. ; pp. 52-3, and Spiegel, EA I 128. 



events before the battle of 591 A.C. between Khosrow Parvez and 
Bahram Cubin, fought by Lake Urmia, Firdausi has the Sasanian 
king hastening towards "Azarbaijan and *Cecast" 31 , Moreover, 
there is abundant evidence that the name Cecast was widely 
adopted for Lake Urmia, becoming contracted, presumably through 
*Cec, *Cez, to Sez, Siz, the last being, it seems, its generally 
accepted form in Islamic times, with variants Cest and Jis (from 
*Ces) . 32 These reductions indicate a long colloquial use of the name 
among Zoroastrians in Atropatene-Adarbadagan; and this mili- 
tates against the theory that the identification of Urmia as 
Caecasta, and hence its association with Kavi Haosravah/Kay 
Khosrow, took place as late as the fifth century A.C, as part of 
reawakened Persian interest then in the old heroic tales of the 
Kavis. 33 That interest was clearly largely political, being linked 
with efforts by the Sasanians to strengthen their hold on north- 
eastern Iran 34 ; and there is no reason why it should have affected 
the Median priests, whose own annexation of Avestan legends 
appears not only to be much older but also to have had a quite 
different aim- 
That this aim was indeed that of attracting pilgrims, and with 
them wealth and influence, to Atropatene is brought out by the 
linking of these Avestan legends with the greatest of Median sacred 
fires, known in Sasanian times as Adur i Gusnasp. 35 When this fire 
was founded is not known, but it can hardly have been before the 
fourth century B.C., when the Zoroastrian temple cult of fire 
appears to have been established. 36 The proper name Gusnasp, 
"Possessing stallions" (Olr. *vmsnaspa-), is generally thought to be 
that of its unknown founder. The Middle Median form would have 
been *Wusnasp or *Wisnasp; and wysnsp is preserved as a variant 
of the fire's name in one Pahlavi manuscript, 37 while the form 
Wsnasp is given by the Armenian historian Sebeos. 38 A reference to 
the great fire has further been seen in Ptolemy's record, made in the 

31 Sahnama, text, IX, p. 2766 1.1601; tr. VIII, p. 282 1.12. 

32 Nyberg, Rel., p. 482 n. 1 to p. 402; Minorsky, BSOAS XI, 264. 

33 So Wikander, Feuerpriester, 151; cf. above, n. 17. 

34 See Boyce, Zoroastrians, 126-8. 

35 See R. Gobi, Anzeiger d. Osterreicher Ak. d. Wiss., 1964, 49-51; H. 
Humbach, "Atur Gusnasp und Takht-i Suleiman", Festschrift W. Eilers, Wiesba- 
den 1967, 189. 

36 See HZ II 221 ff. 

37 K 20 137 V 1 .16, see West, SBE V 218 n. 6, Wikander, Feuerpriester, 234, 
addendum to p. 100. 

38 Histoire d'Heraclius, tr. F. Macler, Paris 1904, 81; cited by Schippmann. 
Feuerheiligtumer, 318. 



second century A.C, of a place called Ouesaspe somewhere in 
north-western Iran, 39 Where exactly Adur Gusnasp was then in- 
stalled is not known. In the late Sasanian period its temple stood on 
the spectacularly beautiful hill called by Muslims Takht-i Sulei- 
man, whose flat top holds a lake high above the level of the 
surrounding countryside. 40 This hill is over 160 km. to the south- 
east of Lake Urmia; and excavations have shown that the sacred 
fire was not established there before the fifth century A.C, a fact 
borne out by literary evidence. The tradition has thus been con- 
firmed that Adur Gusnasp was moved 41 (conceivably in the first 
instance from Raga). Its first temple in Atropatene was also evi- 
dently set on a hill (in keeping with the ancient Iranian tradition of 
worship in high places); and this hill was duly identified with an 
Avestan one, namely Asnuvant, mentioned in Yast 19.5 among the 
lesser mountains of the world. Glosses preserved in the Bundahisn 
state accordingly that "Mount Asnavand is in Adarbadagan", and 
that Adur Gusnasp is "in a house of fire on Mount Asnavand". 42 
Scholars have sought to identify this Median "Asnavand" with 
lofty Savalan or Sahand; 43 but for practical reasons it is likely to 
have been some quite low hill, relatively easy of access for priests, 
servitors and worshippers. It seems, moreover, that it was not far 
from Ganzak, the Atropatenian capital, and so was referred to 
loosely as being "in Ganzak". 44 

M Geography VI.2.12., see Spiegel, EA I 129 n. 1. Herzfeld, AMI II 1930, 72 
staled thai according to Ptolemy Ouesaspe was on the way from [Raga]-Europos 
to *Ga[n]zaka, the latter name being an emendation from Tazaka (or Zazaka, see 
Minorsky, BSOAS XI, 1944, 261); but in fact Ptolemy's data are not adequate to 
support this firm conclusion. Herzfeld held in any case that a distinction between 
the two places was a mistake of Ptolemy's, since he supposed Adur Gusnasp to 
have been established in Ganzaka (on which theory see further below). Widen- 
gren, Rel. Irans, 271 n. 59 went even further, stating that Ptolemy attests the 
existence of Adur Gusnasp in "Siz-Ganzaka". 

40 See Schippmann, o-C, pp. 309-57; and the further reports by the excavators, 
R. Naumann and D. Huff, "Takht-i Suleiman", Bastan Chenassi va Honar-e 
Iran, 9-10, 1972, 7-25; Naumann, Die Ruinen von Tacht-e Suleiman und 
Zendan-e Suleiman, Deutsches Archaologisches Institut, Fuhrer zu Archaologi- 
schen Platzen in Iran, Bd. II, Berlin 1977; Huff, "Recherches archeologiques a 
Takht-i Suleiman ..", CRAI 1978, 774-B9. 

41 Mas c udi, Prairies d'Or, ed. Pellat, II p. 540 (= Barbier de Meynard, IV, p. 
74); Ibn al-Faqih, ed. de Goeje, p. 286; tr. Gottheil, art. cit. in n. 16, p. 45; 
Schippmann, o.c, p. 354. 

« GBd. IX.29 (Ind. Bd. XII. 26) and XVIII. 12 (Ind. Bd. XVII. 7), cf 
Zadspram 111.85. 

43 See Spiegel, EA I 624; Herzfeld, AMI II, 1930, 72. 

44 See Minorsky, BSOAS XI, 265, for Yaqut's location of the "ancient fire- 
temple" at "Kazna" (IV. 272) or "Jaznaq" (11.72); and on Anahit's temple "in" 
Sardis below, pp. 203-4. 





To be near Ganzak was to be near Lake Urmia; and so the 
Median priests were able to associate with their sacred fire the 
story of Haosravah and Franrasyan. The developed legend is 
preserved in the Sahnama* b where it is told how Kay Khosrow, 
despairing of finding Afrasiyab, seeks counsel of his grandfather, 
Kay Kaus; and on his advice they go together to the "house of Azar 
Gasasp'" 16 . There they purify themselves and approach the sacred 
fire in white robes as suppliants. They scatter jewels upon the 
priests and coins upon the "Zand-Avasta". 47 While they are thus 
engaged, the hero Gudarz appears, also to pray before the fire; and 
he tells them that Horn is keeping watch for Afrasiyab by Lake 
Cecast. 48 The two kings hasten there with him; and after Khosrow 
has taken his revenge and slain Afrasiyab, he returns with Kay 
Kaus to "Azar Gasasp". There they offer to the fire prayers of 
thanksgiving and much gold. 49 Khosrow's treasurer joins them, 
and bestows a fortune on the sacred fire and robes of honour on its 
priests, with gold and silver coins and much else. All Khosrow's 
kinsmen gather at the shrine and spend forty days with him there, 
rejoicing together. 

If anachronisms are removed from this late telling of the story 
(i.e. the intrusion of Parthian Gudarz, and the allusion to a written 
Avesta 50 ), then what remains has the appearance of a dramatic and 
effective shrine-legend, suitable for telling to pilgrims, which took 
shape presumably under the Atropatids. This exalts the sacred fire 
by linking it with Avestan (and hence holy) persons and events; 
emphasizes its power to grant prayers; and sets a pattern for the 
lavish expression of gratitude by successful suppliants to the shrine 
and its priests. Moreover, the legend would have encouraged 
pilgrims to visit not only Adur Gusnasp but also the shore of Lake 
Urmia, where probably the very place was shown them where the 
heroic events had been enacted; and this would have created an 
extended pilgrimage, which the beauty of hill and fertile plain and 
huge lake, and the interest of the Atropatenian capital, Ganzak 
(doubtless also visited), would have made truly memorable, and 
worthy to be talked of on the pilgrims' return home. Yet another 
place to be seen nearby was a small lake identified as "Lake 
Khosrow" (Lake Haosravah), said in the Avesta to be an outflow of 


Sahnama, text V, p. 1385 1. 2215 ff.; tr. IV, p. 258 ff. 

Text, p. 1385 1. 2222 {xan-i Azar Gasasp), The fire's name is deformed for 

metrical reasons. 

* 7 Text, V, p. 1385 1. 2223, p. 1386 1.2229. 
46 Text, V, p. 1391 1. 2320 ff., tr. IV, p. 264 

Vourukasa, formed to hide the "Kavyan Glory" from Franrasyan 
when he plunged into that sea in its pursuit. 51 The Bundakisn has 
the statement that "Lake Khosrow is four farsangs from Cecast". 52 
There was, further, to the west of Ganzak the town of Urmia, with 
its claim to be the actual birthplace of the prophet. 

Adur Gusnasp itself became so closely associated with 
LTrmia/Cecast that when eventually, some seven hundred years 
after Atropates lived, the great fire was moved to Takht-i Suleiman, 
relatively far away, its priests evidently gave the same name, 
Recast (by then reduced to Cest, Sec) to the little hilltop lake there. 
(This they probably justified by thinking of it as linked by under- 
ground streams with the larger sheet of water.) The moving of the 
fire was presumably part of the vigorous promotion of its cult, in 
the mid Sasanian period, as the fire of kings; but naturally its 
guardians would have been reluctant to lose thereby any of its 
established pious connections. In Zadspram there is a reference to 
"Lake Cecast which is deep, of warm waters, without life, on whose 
shore stands victorious Adur Gusnasp" (cecast var I zu[f]r i 
garmag-abag ijudgyan, ke-s pad bar nisined adur l gusnasp i perozgdr); 5i 
and virtually identical descriptions of the lake occur in the Bundakisn 
and Zand i Vahman Yost™ all presumably deriving from a gloss in 
the Middle Persian canonical zand. This gloss must have been 
composed sometime after the early fifth century A.C.; for although 
the Avestan Caecasta is called "deep", this epithet is not used in 
references to Urmia-Cecast, which is moreover full offish; but it is 
wholly apt for the apparently bottomless little lake on Takht-i 
Sulaiman," as is the expression "without life", since its strongly 
calcareous waters, which have petrified to form the hill itself, 
contain no creatures. They are moreover warm throughout the 


Text, V, p. 1397 1. 2409, tr. IV, p. 269. 
Cf. above, p. 16 with n. 70. 

51 Yt. 19.56 ff. 

52 GBd. XII. 13; Ind. Bd. XXII.8, which has the variant "50 farsangs". West 
(SBE V 86 n. 7) and Minorsky (BSOAS XI, 264 n. 1), accepting this variant, 
tentatively identified "Lake Khosrow" with Lake Sevan (Gokce), whereas Herz- 
feld (AMI 11,50, 72) on the same basis saw it rather as the Caspian. The reading 
"4 farsangs" is found also, however, in the Zand of Atas Niyayes, see B. N. 
Dhabhar, ZXA, text, p. 38, tr. p. 68; Z. Taraf, Der Awesta-Text Niyayis, pp. 

53 Following essentially the readings of H. Humbach, art. cit. in n. 35, p. 190. 
5 * GBd. XII.3 (cd. B. T. Anklesaria, pp. 114/5): var i cecast pad adurbadagan 

garmdb udjud-gyan Ku cis-iz gyanomand andar ne bawed, and ZVYt. (ed. id., pp. 50/" 
118): var i cecast i zufr l garm-ab ijud-gyan (mss. HY\ var. SDY'), 

55 Cf. the comments of Abu-Dulaf, Travels in Iran, ed. V. Minorsky, Cairo 
1955, 31, and Mustaufi, Nuzhat al-Qulub, ed. G. Le Strange, Leiden and London, 
1919, 69; cited by Schippmann, Feuerheiligtiimer, 321, 325. The appropriateness 
of the Zadspram description, in all its details, to the Takht-i Suleiman lake is noted 
by Humbach, art. cit., p. 189. 



year. This small lake seems also to have been referred to as the 
"pool (ghadir), known as Lake Cest", a description which could not 
possibly be applied to the vast expanse of Urmia. 56 

Once this "poor 1 had been given the name Cest, Sec, then its hill 
probably came to be known as the "Hill of Cest"; and in time the 
whole complex of buildings there was referred to simply as 
Cest/Sec. This is the usage attested by writers of the Islamic 
period, to whom the place was known as Siz; 57 but since Adur 
Gusnasp had been enthroned earlier near Lake Urmia/Cest, i.e. 
near Ganzak, some confusion arose between Ganzak and this Siz* 8 
— a confusion which has been the basis of an elaborate 
edifice of scholarly error in modern times. 59 

56 See Minorsky, BSOAS XI, 264-5, citing- Tabari 1/2, 616 as emended by G. 

See the passages collected by Schippmann, o.c, p. 318 ff., with his own 
summing up, pp. 350-4-. 

58 See ib., pp. 341-7, 349-50; and on the transfer of the name cf. Humbach, 

The first bricks of this edifice were laid by Markwart, Provincial Capitals, 
10&-9. He wrongly identified Ganzak with 3lz, but separated the latter from 
Cecast, interpreting it as probably a name of Mannaean origin; and he understood 
repeated references in the Denkard (listed by him, I.e.) to (apparently) a ganj i 
sycyk'n as referring to this Median town, with *sizlgdn, supposedly an adjective 
derived from Siz, being used as an epithet to distinguish this Ganzak from other 
places of the same name. Nyberg, Rel., 484, n. to p. 415, accepted Markwart's 
reading of the puzzling Dk. adjective, but differed from him in deriving Siz from 
Cccast (ib., p. 482 n. to 402)- and he interpreted the Dk. phrase accordingly 
as meaning "The Treasury of Siz", holding this to have been mentioned so often 
because a copy of the Great Avesta had been deposited at the fire-temple of Adur 
Gusnasp in this very holy city (ib., p. 423 ff., esp. p. 427, end). The holiness of 
Ganzak-Siz, he thought, arose through its having been a Zoroastrian mission- 
station in the pre-Achaemenian days of the faith's westward spread. H. \V. Bailey, 
Zor, Problems, 230-1, interpreted the Dk. phrase differently, comparing it with 
another one occurring in the same work, namely ganj I xwadaydn; and suggested 
reading the_ adjective as spyk'n, that is, as a reduction of * fa (sajpigdn, with *sasap- < 
OP xlo$apavan- "satrap, ruler". The phrase would accordingly mean "Royal 
Treasury", and have nothing to do with either Ganzak or Siz. S. Wikander, Feuer- 
priester, 146 n. 1, described this suggestion as in itself entirely acceptable, but 
thought he could build a sufficiently convincing historical reconstruction on the 
basis of Markwart's interpretation (as modified by Nyberg) to establish that as 
"the only possible one" (p. 146, cf. p. 169). This reconstruction rested, however, 
on a series of unsubstantiated, indeed wild, hypotheses: he projected the cult of 
Anahit, which he saw as the "only missionary religion" of ancient Iran, back into 
a remote Median past, and supposed it to have been linked with a pre-Zoroastri- 
an temple cult of fire, centred on Adur Wisnasp. Since Lake Caecasta is mentioned 
in Yt 5, he held it to have had an especial association with Anahit, hence its 
identification, already in pre-Achaemenian times, with Lake Urmia, and the early 
naming of Ganzak after it. There was nothing, he maintained, which could be 
termed Zoroastrianism before the Sasanian period. Then, he supposed, intense 
rivalry between the 'herbads' of Istakhr and the 'mobads' of Siz (two imaginary- 
groups) ended in a merging of their separate traditions and the creation of a state 



By the Sasanian period Zoroastrians had come to hold Adur 
Gusnasp, and the two other great regional fires of Iran (the Persian 
Adur Farnbag and the Parthian Adur Burzen-Mihr) "in an esteem 
which can hardly be comprehended"; 60 and it was presumably then 
that leading priests sought means to honour all three in their daily 
devotions. A new section was created in the Atas Niyayes, the 
Avestan prayer to fire; but since no temple fire is mentioned in the 
Avesta (the institution itself being relatively late) this section was 
made up of the Avestan names of places and persons which had 
become piously associated with each fire, so that it could be 
invoked allusively through them. 51 The then dominant Persian 
priests naturally placed their own fire, Farnbag, first; but more 
words are devoted to Adur Gusnasp, almost all the elements of its 
shrine-legend being represented by mention of Kavi Haosravah, 
Lake Haosravah, Mount Asnuvant and Lake 6aecasta. The inten- 
tion behind these allusions is duly spelled out in the Pahlavi 
commentary: 52 there Adur Gusnasp is named, Lake Khosrow is 
located in Adarbadagan, and it is declared that in that region 
"warriors" become swifter and stronger through the fire's presence 
(an allusion to the Sasanian characterization of Adur Gusnasp as 
the warriors' fire.) A pre-Sasanian layer of tradition is probably 
represented by the claim that "it was this Adur Gusnasp which 
lamented and cried for help before Ohrmazd"; for Adur Gusnasp is 
thus cast in the role of having appealed to the Creator on behalf of 
all maltreated fires in the world — a role which properly belonged 
not to any individual fire, however sacred, but to the divinity of fire 
himself, Atar. Similarly magniloquent claims were made in diverse 
connections for the other two fires, and all these were eventually set 
down, unreconciled, by priestly scribes, in unconscious record of 

religion of Zoroastrianism. In the later Sasanian period Ganzak-Siz became, he 
held, the chief centre of a reformed and unified Zoroastrian fire-cult, hence the 
repeated references to it in the Denkard. These fantasies did not find general 
acceptance, and even G. Widengren, who adopted a large part of them, expressed 
some doubts (see. e.g., his Rel. Irans, 271 n. 65). In 1971, in the introduction to 
the 2nd ed. of Zor. Problems, pp. xlii-xliii, Bailey abandoned *sasapikdn as an 
interpretation of the problematic Dk. adjective, and mentioned the occurrence of 
yet another MP expression, ganj isdhtkdn, for "Royal Treasury"; and subsequently 
M. Shaki. "The Denkard account of the history of the Zoroastrian scriptures". 
Archiv Orientalni, 1981, 1 15 n. 1, argued convincingly that the evidence, "philo- 
logical as well as historical" suggests for the Dk. adj. itself an original Ihyk'n, 
s'hyk'n, gradually corrupted into ssyk'n and, by a careless curving of the end of s. 
into sfryk'n. He thus established Bailey's original explanation of the meaning of the 
phrase, and severed it finally from any connection with Siz. 

60 Ibnal-Faqih, I.e. in n. 41. 

61 ANy. 5. (The same invocations are found in Siroza 9.) 

63 Dhabhar, ZXA, text p. 38, tr. pp. 67-8; Taraf, I.e. in n, 52. 



pious emulation and rivalry between the priests of different regions 
on behalf of their own shrines. 63 

Another majestic claim for Adur Gusnasp is recorded in the Zand 
i Vahman Yast. 6 * There it is said that when Zoroaster's millennium 
ends, all Iranian peoples will gather in "Patiskhwargar", to which 
is added the gloss: "Truly it has been said that it was [at] Adur 
Gusnasp by the deep Lake Cecast of warm waters. Truly even there 
the religion appeared", events thus being made, in this Median 
tradition, to come full cycle in holy Adarbadagan. 

The association in its shrine-legend of Adur Gusnasp with Kay 
Khosrow's killing of Afrasiyab led, it seems, to further links (some 
probably more literary than devout 65 ) being forged between the fire 
and the Kayanian hero. Thus the Bundahisn alludes to Kay Khos- 
row's destruction, with Adur Gusnasp's aid, of an image-shrine 
{uzdeszdr) by Lake Gecast, and the setting up of fire-holders 
(dtasgdhikd) in that same place, "on Mount Asnavand : '. 6S Other 
texts mention this event more cursorily. 67 It is possible that there is 
here a reflection of a genuine historical occurrence, i.e. an icono- 
clastic act by Khosrow I Anoshiravan, as part of the general Sasa- 
nian campaign against the use of images in worship, 68 which then 
came to be ascribed to his older Avestan namesake. If the Bundahisn 
allusion here to Mount Asnavand can be relied on, it would seem 
that the uzdeszdr in question was Adur Gusnasp's own old temple 

It was largely because he made no allowance for such emulation chat 
Wikander was led to postulate, on the basis of shrine-legends, a pre-Zoroastrian 
temple-cult of fire. Naturally, in a desire to give their sacred fires each as 
impressive an antiquity as possible, priests claimed figures from Avestan tradition 
as their founders, without considering that heroes from the "Kayanian" cycle had 
lived before the prophet. Such shrine-legends contain all too obviously no shred of 
historical truth, however interesting they may be for throwing light on the growth, 
and possibly relative antiquity, of local traditions.— Unfortunately Schippmann, 
in his generally admirable Feuerheiligtumer, repeated Wikander's theorisings in 
this respect. These serve only to cast a confusing cloud over the actual history of 
the temple cult of ever-burning fire in Iran, which on the evidence available is of 
relatively late origin and distinctively Zoroastrian, 
w VI. 10; cf. West, SBE V 218. 

Notably the heroic tale of Kay Khosrow' s capture of Bahman Diz. Firdausi 
in his retelling of this (Sahnama, text, II p. 756 1.1345 ffl, tr. II, p. 406 ff.) sets the 
events near Ardabil, which in his day had replaced Ganzak as the capital of 
Azerbaijan (see Le Strange, Eastern Caliphate, 159, 168). He has Kay Khosrow 
then building the temple for Adur Gusnasp, whereas in the zandot ANy. 5, which 
alludes to the same story, it is simply said that the great fire aided Khosrow in his 
venture. So also Rivayats, ed. Unvala, I, 72.47, tr. Dhabhar, p. 60. 

66 GBd. XVIII.12, Ind. Bd. XVII. 7. 

67 Dk. VIL1.39 (West, SBE XLVII, p. 14; Sanjana, XIII, pp. 15/16; Madan, 
II, p. 599.1-3); MX 11.95; PRDd XLVIII.42; Mas c udi f Prairies d'Or, ed. Pellat, 
II 540 (= Barbier de Meynard, IV 74). 

68 Cf. above, p. 66 n. 71. 


near Lake Urmia; and this suggests the possibility that this sanctu- 
ary contained a chapel dedicated to a particular yazata, whose 
veneration continued to flourish there after the fire itself had been 
moved to Takht-i Suleiman; 69 but even if so, the brief narrative is so 
heavily enveloped in mythic associations that there is nothing to 
indicate how old such a cult might have been: it could as well have 
been established there under Arsacid as under Atropatid rule. 

However this may be, it is clear that holy places were success- 
fully created in Media Atropatene: the town of Urmia as the birth- 
place of Zoroaster; the shrine of Adur Gusnasp; and the shore of 
Lake Urmia nearby, as the scene of heroic events in which divine 
powers had taken part. These places were all fairly close together, 
in an area which was under the immediate control of Atropates and 
his successors at Ganzak, and easily accessible from Raga, Ecba- 
tana and other regions of Greater Media. All these pious develop- 
ments may be supposed to have been actively encouraged by the 
Atropatids, who would have profited, together with the priests, as 
the fame of these holy places grew, not merely financially but also 
through enhanced prestige, and the advantages brought by social 
intercourse with distinguished visitors to the shrines. Belief in the 
truth of the various legends was probably devout and general 
within a short time of their conception (there are many instructive 
parallels in the Christian and Muslim worlds); and they were doubt- 
less asourceof strength to the Zoroastrians of Adarbadagan and beyond. 

Despite this success in transferring the religious centre of Media 
to Atropatene, there was evidently no abandonment of holy Raga, 
whose Zoroastrian traditions went back to perhaps the eighth 
century B.C., 70 and which was to continue to be a famous centre of 
the religion down into Islamic times. Some priests must have 
remained there, tending its shrines and ministering to the local 
community. But the former Median tradition, that Zoroaster him- 
self had lived and taught in Raga, 71 now conflicted with the claim 
that he belonged to Adarbadagan. One solution to the problem was 
simply to state flatly: "Ray is [in] Adarbadagan 72 ; but an elegantly 

69 For the cults of fire and yazata in a single temple complex cf. below, pp. 
178-9, 235-6. 

70 Cf. HZ II 8-9; Gnoli, De Zoroastre a Mani, 45—6; "Ragha la zoroastriana", 
Acta Or. 24, 1985, 217-28, esp. p. 226 S. 

;l Pahl. Vd. LI 5. 

" lb., and GBd. XXXIII.2B. Christensen, Le premier chapitre du Vd., 43-4, 
ingeniously used this statement lo date the Vd. commentary to the reign of 
Khosrow I Anoshiravan (531-579 A.C.), since that king divided Iran into 4 
regions and joined Ray to the northern one, called, after its chief province, 
Adarbadagan; but there is probably an older basis at least for the statement, 
religio-politica] rather than simply administrative. 



logical one was to say that the prophet's mother came from Raga, 
but his father from Adarbadagan, where he himself was born. 73 
This fitted the tradition that Zoroaster's mother was sent away 
from her girlhood home because of the supernatural light which 
had come to surround her, and that she then journeyed until she 
came to "the land of the Spitamas", where she met and married his 
father. 74 Thus both Raga and the Urmia-Cecast neighbourhood 
came for the Median Zoroastrians to have very holy associations. 
Only one surviving religious monument in Adarbadagan has 
been attributed to the time of the Atropatids, namely the rock-tomb 
at Fakhrika. 75 This is in the heartland of Media Atropatene, that is, 
in the river-plain to the south-east of Lake Urmia. The low, 
isolated hill into which it is cut rises just off the road leading south 
from the town of Urmia to modern Mahabad, and little more than 
a kilometre before this road is joined from the east by the highway 
from Ganzak (modern Miandoab). 76 On the north side the hill's 
incline is gentle; and its crest bears the remains of fortifications, 
which appear to have been unimportant and only briefly used. 77 
On the south side it drops abruptly, with an almost sheer rock-face, 
into which the tomb was cut. This tomb belongs to the group of 
funerary monuments termed the "Median rock- tombs", 79 of which 
it is the only one to be found in Atropatene. It consists of an 
ante-chamber and tomb-chamber, skilfully hewn out of the rock 
some five metres above the level of the plain, with the rock-face 
beneath made smooth and vertical. The open facade, recessed into 
the cliff-face, is dignified by two pillars shaped from the rock to 
form a triple entrance. Each has been given a base like a truncated 
cone, surmounted by a torus-like ring; and this has been seen as a 
simplified version of Achaemenian bell-shaped column-bases. 79 
Behind is the rectangular ante-chamber, with a bench carved out at 
each narrow end. On its long side two more pillars, repeating those 

3 Shahrastani, tr. Haarbriicker, [ 275 (cited by Gottheil, art. cit. in n. 16, p. 48; 
Jackson, Zoroaster, 199), 

74 Dk. V1I.2.2 ff.; ed. and tr. by M. Mole, La Legende de Zoroastre, 14 £; tr. 
West, SBE XLVII, 17 ff., Boyce, Sources. 72-4. 

,s First described by H. C, Rawlinson, JRGS X, 1840, 37. For subsequent 
bibliography see H. von Gall, '"Medische 1 Felsgraber", AA 1966, 20-21; and 
add D. Huff, "Das Felsengrab von Fakhrikah", 1st. Mitt. 21, 1971, 161-71; VV. 
Kleiss, "Bericht uber Erkundungsfahrten in Iran im Jahre 1972" AMI, n.s. 6 
1973, 28, 39. 

For sketch-maps see Huff, art. cit., p. 162; Kleiss, an. cit., p. 8. 

77 See Kleiss. AMI n.s. 2, 1969, 28, Abb. 24. Their date is uncertain. 

8 See below, p. 94 ff. 

79 Von Gall. art. cit., pp. 30-1 with Abb. 11; Huff, art. cit., pp. 163-7 with 
sketches, and Taf. 51-53.1; Vanden Berghe, Arch., 1 19 fig. 34. 



of the facade, create a triple doorway from it to the tomb-chamber. 
These pillars have simple cube-shaped bases above shallow socles, 
and in this respect have been compared with pillars at the rock- 
grave of Da-u-Dukhtar in Persis, and with the temple-pillars at 
Khurha in Greater Media, 80 which suggests that, despite political 
separation, Atropatene continued to share a common culture with 
other western Iranians; and there are other indications that this 
involved a certain degree of hellenization. 

The floor of the tomb-chamber is a little higher than that of the 
ante-chamber, and in It were hewn four rectangular cavities, each 
with a carefully chiselled groove around the rim, intended evidently 
to hold a cover. 81 These cavities, all roughly the same size, were not 
large enough to hold adult corpses, extended; and in the light both 
of the evidently strong Zoroastrianism of the Atropatids, and of the 
likeness of these cavities to those of the Achaemenian rock-cut 
ossuary at Limyra in Lycia, 82 it seems reasonable to suppose that 
Fakhrika too was an ossuary, an "astodana", designed to receive, 
after exposure, the disarticulated bones of members of one noble 
family according to prescriptions of the Vendidad.^ The Fakhrika 
tomb is remarkable for the openness of its construction, with its 
pillared portico instead of a narrow, closed doorway, as in the 
Achaemenian tombs and others of the Median group, and this has 
been seen as a modification of Iranian tradition by a Hellenistic 
feeling for space and freedom. 84 It can also be regarded as a 
testimony to the sense of security felt by Zoroastrians in this part of 
Atropatene, with no fear of sacrilegious intrusion in such a place 85 
— although it is very possible that under the Atropatids the family 
concerned maintained chantry-priests and watchmen always by 
the tomb. 

In Adarbadagan, as in other parts of Iran, graves are to be found 
cut in the rocky surfaces of hills, sometimes, like a group of four at 
Shaytanabad (a little to the north of Fakhrika along the Urmia 

m Huff, art. cit., pp. 167-8, with Abb. 6. On these monuments see below, pp. 

81 Huff, art. cit., pp. 169-70 with Taf. 52-3 and sketch-plan, p. 165. He 
established that it was only subsequently that the rock between two of the cavities 
was chiselled away to create a single hollow large enough to receive an integral 

8i See, with bibliography, HZ II 210-11. 

83 Vd. 6.49-51, cf. HZ I 326-7. 

u Huff, art. cit., p. 171. 

3 The smoothing away of the rock-face below the tomb seems more a matter of 
tradition and design than a defensive measure, for the entrance remains accessible 
to any determined intruder. 



road) with chiselled rims to hold a cover. 86 Such graves are undata- 
ble, and could as well be pre-Iranian as Iranian; but if Iranian, the 
Shaytanabad ones can be seen as another way of disposing of a 
corpse in general accord with Zoroastrian precept, in that under a 
stone cover it would there have been securely shut away from all 
danger of polluting the good creations. 

The caves of Karafto 

Near what appears to have been the border between Atropatene 
and Greater Media is to be found a puzzling complex of chambers 
and passage-ways hewn in a limestone cliff overlooking the narrow 
valley of the Saruk. 87 This stream is a right-bank tributary of the 
Zarineh, which, flowing north, passes by Miandoab to empty its 
waters, as a confluent of the Talavi, into Lake Urmia. The region of 
the caves is thus naturally linked to the heartland of Atropatene. 88 
The Saruk valley cuts through grassy tableland, which provides 
good seasonal grazing; but there are no towns in the vicinity (the 
caves are named after the small village of Karafto nearby), and the 
place is remote from any highway or well-used track, ancient or 

The cliff complex includes some natural caves as well as later 
man-made ones; but the hewn chambers attributed to Hellenistic 
times all have domed ceilings and are the work of good craftsmen. 89 
They are arranged in two tiers, between which one can pass; and 
from the time of the first visit to the caves by a Westerner in 1818, 90 
interest has focussed on a Greek inscription roughly carved over the 
cliff-entrance to a room in the upper tier. This inscription, though 
weathered and partly defaced by modern graffiti, has been read as 

86 On these graves see W. Kleiss, AMI 4, 1971, 55-6 with Abb. 7; 6, 1973, 
37-8 with Abb. 35. 

87 See the end-map in Stein, Old Routes, and ihe sketch-map given by 
P. Bernard, "Heracles, les grottes de Karafto et le sanctuaire du Mont Sambulos 
en Iran", St. Ir. 10, 1981, 302. 

88 This was cogently argued in a letter written to the present writer in 1987 by 
Dr. Huff, who had travelled in the region and knew the terrain well. His 
arguments have been accepted by P. Bernard, who was himself familiar with the 
site only from literary sources. 

m On them see, with bibliography and sketch plans, H, von Gall, "Die 
Kultraiime in den Felsen von Karaftu bei Takab (West-Azarbaidjan)", AMI II, 
1978, 91-112; Bernard, art. cit, pp. 301-24. 

90 An English doctor, J. Cormick, whose unpublished report led R. Ker Porter 
to the site in the same year. He made the first drawing of the inscription, to be 
followed by H. Rawlinson (1838), Aurel Stein (1938) and R. Naumann and 
H. von Gall (1975). See von Gall, art. cit, pp. 91-2; Bernard, art. cit, pp. 302-3. 



follows: 91 'HpaxXfjs [£]v[9]a6e xaTOLxei. MiiSfev uoEkdoi xaxov 
"Heracles dwells here. May nothing bad enter". These words 
were for a time taken to show that the complex had been a 
sanctuary of the Greek divine hero, who had perhaps, it was 
thought, absorbed the concept of a local god, such as Iranian 
Verethraghna; but it has now been established that while inscrip- 
tions with such wording, well attested in Hellenistic lands, occur 
over house doors, and in one instance over that of a public building, 
they are never found at entrances to holy places; and this, it is 
pointed out, is rational, for if a sanctuary were dedicated to 
Heracles himself, a declaration such as this would be superfluous; if 
to some other god, then it would be his protection which it 
enjoyed. 92 Sometimes an altar is found in connection with these 
apotropaic inscriptions, or a niche for offerings; but in every case 
this is part of a domestic cult, and belongs to the sphere of private 

devotions. 93 

From this it follows that the rock-chambers of Karafto, carved out 
with evident labour and expense, were for secular use—intended, 
it would seem, not as chapels or cult rooms but as audience- halls, 
dwelling chambers and the like. 94 This accords with the fact that 
the local name for the caves is Qala-i Karafto, "The castle of 
Karafto", and that no tradition of sanctity attaches to thein. 95 The 
problem remains that whereas geographically the Saruk valley 
belongs to Atropatene, the inscription is not only Greek in language 
and sentiment, but is judged on epigraphic grounds to have been 
written by a Greek; for however irregular the carving, the shapes of 
the letters themselves show no awkwardness, but are of a style in 
general use in the late fourth to early third centuries B.C. 96 This led 
to a tentative hypothesis that the caves had been the residence of a 
Greek commander of a small force guarding what was then thought 
to have been the northern frontier of Greater Media. 97 Now that it 
is held that the area in question belonged rather to Atropatene, it is 
not difficult to adapt this hypothesis, and to suppose instead that 
the putative force was in the service of the Atropatids, with at one 
time a Greek mercenary at its head; for since these dynasts appear 

91 For the history of the inscription's decipherment see Bernard, art. cit., p. 303 
n 7 Stein's squeeze (Old Routes, opp. p. 327) is reproduced by von Gall, art. cit., 
p. 91. 

So Bernard, art. cit., p. 304. 

lb., p. 305. 

lb., pp. 305-7. 

lb., p. 310. 

Stein, ox., pp. 337-8; von Gall, art. cit., p. 

Bernard, art. cit., p. 308. 

95; Bernard, art. cit., p. 305. 





to have employed Greek craftsmen, there is no reason why they 
shouid not also have hired Greek soldiers. Yet it may well be 
questioned whether the frontier is likely to have been guarded from 
such an out-of-the-way place; and clearly the existing data are too 
meagre for any interpretation of them to be pressed. What is 
important for the present history is that the complex cannot be 
regarded as a religious sanctuary, let alone one with Zoroastrian 
connections; 98 and that the inscription provides yet another piece of 
evidence for the popularity of Heracles among Hellenes in the 
Seleucid era." 


The Atropatids appear strikingly successful both in maintaining 
their political independence, and in preserving and helping to 
develop Zoroastrian traditions, thus taking a worthy place in the 
long line of princely patrons of the faith. Under their rule Media 
Atropatene may be presumed to have prospered, free from the 
drain of wars. The only recorded armed incursion was that of 
Antiochus III in 221, and this seems to have been speedily bought 
off by payment of tribute. 100 This payment is not likely to have been 
kept up, since Seleucid fortunes soon declined thereafter; and the 
Atropatids continued to reign independently until their land was 
absorbed into the Parthian Empire. Adarbadagan was thus the 
only part of Iran to remain under Zoroastrian rule uninterruptedly, 
apart from Alexander's brief dominance, from Achaemenian times 
until the Arab conquest. The two hundred or so years of Atropatid 
rule evidently enabled it to acquire pre-eminence in religious 
matters in the eyes of the Zoroastrians of western Iran; and this 
pre-eminence was still in a measure conceded to it by Persians in 
Sasanian times, who naturally preferred Median traditions to those 
of Parthia, and who had no strongly developed network of holy 
legends of their own to promote, 101 and notably no claim to any 
such links with the prophet as those so convincingly fashioned in 
Atropatene at this epoch. 

96 The identification of Karafto with Mt. Sambulos is also rejected bv Bernard 
art^ pit., who accepted instead that of this mountain with Behistun, see below^ 


Cf. above, pp. 62-5 
'' Cf. above, p. 29. 
Cf. HZ II 8-9. 

Greater Media 

The Hellenistic element 

From Alexander's death to the coming of the Parthians the rich 
and strategically important satrapy of Greater Media remained 
under direct Macedonian rule, being for the Seleucids their most 
valuable possession on the Iranian plateau. Of it Polybius writes: 
"Media is the most notable principality in Asia, both in the extent 
of its territory and the number and excellence of the men and also 
of the horses it produces. . . . On its borders a ring of Greek cities 
was founded by Alexander to protect it from the neighbouring 
barbarians. Ecbatana is an exception. ... It had always been the 
royal residence of the Medes and is said to have greatly exceeded 
all the other cities in wealth and in the magnificence of its 
buildings." 102 The palace, he says, was both huge and splendid, 
"for the woodwork was all of cedar and cypress, but no part of it 
was left exposed, and the rafters, the compartments of the ceiling, 
and the columns in the porticoes and colonnades were plated with 
either silver or gold, and all the tiles were of silver. Most of the 
precious metals were stripped off in the invasion of Alexander and 
his Macedonians, and the rest during the reigns of Antigonus and 
Seleucus". Thus denuded, the great palace may well still have 
served as summer residence for the Macedonian governor-general 
of the eastern or "upper" satrapies; 103 but nothing is known of 
Greek settlement in Ecbatana, and it was not until 165 B.C., in the 
reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, that it received apparently a 
Greek name, Epiphania, and perhaps additional Greek colonists. 10 * 
Ecbatana stood on the Khorasan Highway, and, as we have seen, 
Seleucus I marked his concern for safeguarding this vital artery by 
refounding Raga, which controlled Media's eastern borders, as a 
Greek city named Europus. 105 To the west of Ecbatana is the town 
now known as Kangavar. which also stands on this highway. Here 
in Parthian times there was a famous temple to "Artemis", 
presumably, that is, to Anahit, mentioned by Isidore of Charax in 
his itinerary. 106 Scholars once identified this temple with imposing 
remains at Kangavar, first ascribed to the Hellenistic era, but 

102 X.27.3. On the extent of Media under the Seleucids see H. H. Schmitt, 
TJntersuchungen, 50 ff. 

103 On this office under the Seleucids see L. Robert, Hellenica VII, 1949, 23-4; 
Schmitt, art. cit, pp. 116-18. 

104 Cf. above, p. 33. 

105 Above, p. 23. 

106 Parthian Stations, 6. 


excavations have resulted in the building concerned being now 
regarded as a secular one of the Sasanian epoch 107 (with Pahlavi 
inscriptions and other data pointing to a large-scale reconstruction 
in the reign of Khosrow II 108 ). Whether Isidore's "Artemis" temple 
was founded in late Achaemenian times, or only subsequently 
under the Arsacids, there is thus no means of knowing; nor yet 
whether there was a Hellenistic city at Kangavar. 

In fact the situation is known of only one other of the many towns 
said to have been founded in Media by the Macedonians. This was 
a polis named Laodicia, which was set at a strategic point on the 
Khorasan Highway where this was crossed by a second great road 
that led to Isfahan and Persepolis, and then, branching, either on 
to Bushire (Antiochia-in-Persis) on the Persian Gulf, or east across 
Carmania to distant Drangiana and Arachosia. 109 The ruins of this 
Laodicia are on high ground by the present town of Nehavand. 
They have been pillaged for their stones, but have yielded as 
chance finds bronze objects and a stone altar, 110 and, above all, 
three Greek inscriptions, the longest and most important of which 
supplied the city's name. 111 This inscription records a letter written 
in June/July 193 B.C., by Menedemos to Apollodoros and the 
magistrates and city of Laodicia, while one of the shorter inscrip- 
tions honours Menedemos as governor of the upper satrapies, an 
office he may well have united with the governorship of Media. 112 
Apollodorus was, it is supposed, the royal commissioner in 
Laodicia." 3 Menedemos sends him an edict of the king (shown by 
the date to be Antiochus III), with orders to have it carved on a 
stone stele and placed in the most illustrious of the city's sanctu- 
aries. The edict itself is dated to March/ April of the same year, two 
months being evidently the time it took for a communication from 
Antiochus, then in Western Asia Minor, to reach Media. 114 In the 

107 M. Azarnoush, "Excavations at Kangavar", AMI 14, 1981, 69-84:. (For a 
bibliography of earlier studies sec Schippmann, Feuerheiligtiimer, 298-308.) 

108 Azarnoush gives photographs, without comment, of some of the short Pahl. 
inscriptions. There are about 20 of these, engraved on the under side of blocks 
scattered in the masonry covering the terrace. They were examined in 1973 by V. 
G. Lukonin, "Xram Anaxily v Kangavare", VD1 1977/2, 105-111, who assigned 
them, by the shape of the letters, to 6th- early 7th centuries A.C. 

109 D, Schlumbergcr apud L. Robert, "Encore une inscription grecque de 
l'lran", CRAI 1967, 294 n. 4. 

110 See R. Ghirshman, Iran, Parthes et Sassanides, 18-19. 

1,1 See Ghirshman apud Robert, "Inscriptions seleucides de Phrygie et d'Iran", 
Hellenica VII, 19+9, 21, where Robert (pp. 5-29) published the inscription, 
adding further observations on it in art. cdt. in n. 109. 

112 Published by Robert, Hellenica VIII, 73-^. 

113 Robert, Hellenica VII, 22. 
1,4 Robert, ib., pp. 15, 17. 



edict the king declares that, just as there are high priests of his own 
cult appointed in the kingdom, 1 15 so there are to be high priestesses 
in the same place for that of "his sister the queen Laodice" (who 
was in fact his first cousin, Laodice of Pontus" 6 ). The high priestess 
appointed for her cult in Iran he refers to simply as Laodice— 
meaning evidently by this unadorned name their daughter, who 
was then married to her brother, the heir-apparent Antiochus. 
(This prince died later the same year, and she was married again to 
her other brother, who was to reign as Seleucus IV 117 .) The 
appointment of the princess as high priestess of her mother's cult in 
this region is an indication of the high value placed by Antiochus 
III on the eastern satrapies. Another inscribed copy of this edict 
had been known since 1884, found in the village of Dodurga in the 
plain of Karayiik in southern Phrygia. 118 There the accompanying 
letter by the local governor shows that he was able to transmit the 
edict a month earlier than Menedemos 119 , while in it the high 
priestess for that region is named as Berenice, daughter of the 
king's kinsman, Ptolemy, son of Lysimachos. Her father^ and 
grandfather have been identified as dynasts of the Carian city of 
Telmessus, she too being thus young and of high birth.' 

These two copies of Antiochus' edict, found so far apart, demon- 
strate the unity of the Seleucid empire in its royal and official 
aspects: and the discovery in 1967 of a fragment of a third copy, 
again in Media, helps to confirm that the Seleucids held that 
satrapy in a firm grip. 121 The broken stele bearing this copy came to 
light in the neighbourhood of Kermanshah. On it too the edict was 
accompanied by a letter from Menedemos, written in the same 
month as that to Laodicia, but addressed to an individual, one 
Thoas, who is to have the stele bearing the edict set up in the most 
illustrious sanctuary in his phulake, that is the military district 
under his command. 122 Such a district, it is suggested, was needed 
near Kermanshah, where the Khorasan Highway passed through 

115 Cf. above, pp. 30-1. 

116 Cf. below, p. 282. For striking details of the civic cults of Antiochus and 
Laodice in 2 towns of western Asia Minor see S. R. F. Price, Rituals and Power, 

117 See Robert, art. cit., p. 18; CRAI 1967, 287. 

118 On Greeks and Persians in this place see below, p. 249. A bibliography of 
the Dodurga inscription is given by Robert, Hellenica VII, pp. 8-9 with nn. 

1,9 Robert, ib., p. 15. 

120 On the dates of these two dynasts see Robert, ib., p. 17. 
ISI Published by Robert, CRAI 1967, 281-97. 

122 The Greek word was deciphered by Robert, who discusses its use and 
significance, ib., p. 292. 



mountainous denies and had to be guarded from brigands. The 
indication that there were several Greek shrines in it is interesting 
(unless the phrase concerned was purely formulaic). 

The only known physical remains of a Hellenistic temple in 
Media, other than those at Laodicia, are thought to be in the fertile 
valley of Khurha near Mahallat, to the south-east of Qum. 123 Here 
two tall, slender stone pillars are still standing, uncharacteristic in 
their proportions for Greek architecture, and with bases and capitals 
which likewise suggest local adaptations of Greek forms. 124 (The 
bases of these pillars, as we have seen, 125 have been compared with 
others at the rock-tombs of Fakhrika in Atropatene and Da-u- 
Dukhtar in Persis.) On these grounds this building has been 
assigned to a date late in the Hellenistic period. Excavations 
(whose results have yet to be published) have revealed numerous 
skeletons beneath one part of the building, whose presence seems to 
exclude any possibility of Zoroastrian participation in worship 
here. 156 

The Iranian element 

Although so few actual traces remain of the Hellenistic settle- 
ment of Media, the Thoas stele suggests that its relative density led 
to the creation there of Greek shrines in the countryside as well as 
in the Greek cities. Beside these, the old Zoroastrian holy places 
naturally continued to exist. A fabulously rich temple at Ecbatana 
is spoken of by Polybius, which was evidently built and embellished 
by Achaemenian kings; and though he says that it was dedicated 
to "Aine", it is presumed that Anahit is in fact meant. This temple 
had not been so thoroughly despoiled by Alexander and his early 
successors as the royal palaces at Ecbatana, for, Polybius relates, 
when Antiochus III reached that city in 209, on the eve of his 
eastern campaign, 127 it alone had "the columns around it still 
gilded, and a number of silver tiles were piled upon it, while a few 

On these remains see, with bibliography, Schippmann, Feuerheiligtfimer, 

114 See Herzfeld, AH1, 51 with PI. VI; Vanden Berghe, Arch., PI. 160c. 

125 Cf. above, p. 83. 

126 These skeletons led A. D. H. Bivar (JRS LIX 1969, 30) to conjecture that 
the ruins were those of a hereon erected over the bones of Alexander's companions 
who fell in the battle nearby in which Anugonus defeated Eumenes (cf. above, p. 
20); but this is rejected by P. Bernard (in a verbal communication), who agrees 
with Herzfeld's late dating of the pillars, and points out that no communal heroon 
is known. 

127 Cf. above, pp. 29-30. 



gold bricks and a considerable quantity of silver ones remained". 128 
All this Antiochus took, enriching his empty treasury by some 4000 
talents. Polybius' account of the temple's gradual despoliation 
suggests that the Seleucids had felt some compunction after first 
ravaging it, and that, though plainly no restoration had been 
attempted, religious life had been able to continue there (for had it 
stood empty, lesser thieves would surely have finished the work of 
looting, leaving nothing for Antiochus at this late date) . It is indeed 
probable that during less stressful times Seleucid princes and their 
local officials themselves made offerings there, their motives a 
mixture of diplomatic and prudently devotional ones. The Zoroast- 
rians of Greater Media must nevertheless have lived with uncer- 
tainties and griefs unknown to their co-religionists in more 
fortunate Atropatene. 

The sanctuary at Bekistun 

There is one ancient holy place in Media where Hellenes appear 
to have added their prayers to Zoroastrian ones. This is the 
sanctuary on the north-east flank of Mount Behistun, the ancient 
"place of the gods" which rises so dramatically from the surround- 
ing plain in the heart of Media. 129 Fragments of pottery and small 
bronze ornaments take the presence of man here back to about 
1500-1400 B.C. 130 There are various traces of the Medes in the 
eighth- seventh centuries, it being they, presumably, who gave the 
mountain and sanctuary the Iranian name of *Bagastana; and the 
Persians who conquered them also evidently held the place sacred, 
since on another face of the mountain, separated from the sanctu- 
ary by a deep cleft, Darius had his great inscription carved, 
recording for the eyes of the gods who dwelt there 131 the victories 

128 Polybius X.27. 

,M Cf. HZ II 9. (Note: The sketch of Median history given there, pp. 9-12, has 
to be radically revised in the light of the article by P. R. Helm, "Herodotus' 
Midikos Logos and Median history", Iran XIX, 1981, 85-90). On the mountain's 
Iranian name, rendered by the Greeks as Bagistanon (Diodorus 2.13.1) see R. 
Schmitt, "Bisotun : i Introduction", Elr. IV 289-90. 

130 Excavations began here in 1963, and the German archaeologists named the 
complex the "Partherhang" because of Parthian rock carvings in the vicinity. See 
W. Kleiss, "Zur Topographie des 'Partherhanges' in Bisutun", AMI 3, 1970, 
133-68. He interpreted the complex as a stronghold, but P. Bernard, art. cit. in n. 
87, p. 319 flf., argued, to the writer convincingly, that as a stronghold it would have 
been indefensible, and presented good grounds for considering it to have been a 
religious sanctuary. The theory that it was a fortress was nevertheless presented 
again, without discussion, by H. Luschey, "Bisotun : ii Archaeology", Elr. IV 291. 

131 Cf. HZ II 99. On the inscription itself see last R. Schmitt, "Bisotun : iii 
Darius' inscription", Elr. IV 299-305. 





that he had secured by Ahuramazda's grace. Evidence is abundant 
for the sanctuary being frequented in Seleucid- Parthian times; and 
it was not until the very end of the Sasanian period that it seems to 
have been abandoned (conceivably in consequence of the sustained 
campaign then to make fire temples the centres for public devo- 

The sanctuary was marked off by a wall of undressed stones, 
running from the foot of one rocky spur to that of another, and 
enclosing a large space. The main gateway into this appears to 
have been between rocks on the south-west side, opening towards 
the town of Behistun and the lake lying at the mountain's foot. It 
was here that the Khorasan Highway ran past mountain and 
sanctuary, bringing doubtless many worshippers over the centu- 
ries. Within the enclosed area the ground sloped gently upward. A 
wall separated this first zone from a second one, which rose more 
steeply, and which could be reached either through the first, or 
directly by a gateway from higher ground on the sanctuary's north 
side. Finally there was a third zone, divided from the second by 
natural outcrops of rock, and containing a level area at a height 
above even Darius' lofty relief. This part of the sanctuary formed a 
natural "high place", at which Zoroastrians could offer worship to 
the yazatas according to traditional Iranian practice. 132 Yet, ele- 
vated though it was, it was still relatively easy of access for priests 
and worshippers, climbing up by degrees through the sanctuary's 
two lower tiers; and many more could have watched from below the 
rites being performed there. Within each of the three tiers there 
were terraces made among the rocks, with in places rock-hewn 
stairways between them; and here and there are to be found 
rounded hollows cut in the stone, of the kind usually called by 
archaeologists "fire bowls". In the lower two zones the remains of 
walls of baked brick show that there had once been buildings there, 
of which nothing as yet is known. 

Around the sanctuary are rock carvings set there by Iranian 
kings; and in these, it has been noted, each king is shown looking 
towards the holy place; Darius and the Parthian Gotarzes from the 
south, a Parthian Valakhs from the north east. 133 That Behistun 
kept its sanctity, thus royally acknowledged, for the local Median 
population throughout cannot be doubted; and it seems that the 

conquering Hellenes learnt in their turn to respect this profoundly 
impressive place as one where prayers were likely to reach the gods. 
Diodorus speaks of a Bagistane district which he calls "best fitting 
for the gods" {tkeoprepestate) 134 ; and towards the very end of Seleu- 
cid ascendancy a shrine to Heracles Kallinikos was created by its 
main gate. To the east of this gate there is a huge rock that had 
been made part of the sanctuary's outer wall; and on its irregular 
surface was carved the figure of the divine hero, in high relief. 135 He 
is shown reclining, naked, on his lionskin, drinking cup in hand, 
with beside him his club, leaning against a boulder. "If the heavi- 
ness of the forms, not lacking in power, betrays the provincial 
character of the work, the iconography itself is purely Greek". 136 
There is one unusual detail, however, a quiver of arrows hanging 
from a tree. A Greek inscription states that the shrine had been 
created ex voto by one Hyacinthes, son of Pentauchos (a distinc- 
tively Macedonian name) for the well-being of Gleomenes governor 
of the "upper satrapies", in 148 B.C.— on the eve, that is, of victory 
by the Parthians in this region. 137 Under this inscription is carved 
more faintly the beginning of an Aramaic version of the same 
text, 138 which suggests that at least one Iranian noble (able to pay 
for the services of scribe and stone-cutter) accepted the propriety of 
Greek worship at this place. 

Mount Behistun has been identified with the Mount Sambulos 
mentioned by Tacitus in this area 139 (Sambulos representing per- 
haps its ancient pre-Iranian name' 40 ). He relates that when in 
49-30 A.G. a pretender made a bid to seize the Parthian throne 
from Gotarzes I, the latter "near a mountain named Sambulos 
offered prayers to the divinities of the place, of whom Heracles was 
pre-eminently worshipped". 1 * 1 The popularity here of Heracles— 
that is, for Iranians, of Verethraghna— was presumably due to his 
wayside shrine, conspicuous to all who passed by and inviting their 
devotions, this being a clear instance of Greek worship of Heracles 

133 Bernard, art. cit., p. 321. 

133 Kleiss, art. cit., pp. 144-5, 147; Bernard, art. cit., p. 322, who stresses that 
this is an indication of the place's sanctity. For the inscription identifying 
"Valakhs" see G. Gropp, AMI 3, 1970, 200 with Taf. 101. 1; on the Parthian 
remains generally Luschey, Elr. IV 293; and further in HZ IV. 

I3+ 17.110.5 (see Schmitt, Elr. IV 290). 

135 Kleiss, art. cit., Taf. 2.1; Luschey, Elr. IV 293, PI. XIII. 

136 Bernard, art. cit., p. 316. D. Stronach's conjecture that the lionskin originally 
represented a living lion, being older lhan the rest of the relief, was learnedly 
developed by Kleiss, art. cit., pp. H5-7, but rented by Bernard, art. cu.. p. 316 
n. 51. 

137 Published by Robert, Gnomon 1967, 76. 
130 Noticed by A. D. H. Bivar. 

139 Herzfeld in Sar re-He rzfeld, Iranische Felsreliefs, 190 n. 2. His interpretation 
is endorsed by Bernard, art. cit. : p. 312 E, who presented cogently the arguments 
for seeking Sambulos here and not in Karafto. 

140 Herzfeld, Am Tor, 46; Bernard, art. cit., p. 324. 

141 Annals XII. 13. 



encouraging the veneration of the Iranian yazaia. i42 Tacitus further 
tells a legend of Mount Sambulos, that at certain times Heracles 
prompts his priests there by a dream to leave ready near the 
sanctuary horses prepared for the chase, with quivers full of arrows. 
All the next day these horses roam the woods around, returning 
weary, with the quivers empty. Another dream then shows the 
priests where to find the beasts slain by the god. Neither Heracles 
nor Verethraghna was a riding or hunting god; and the mysterious 
bowman has been seen as originally Mithra, who was conceived as 
both in the Hellenistic age. 143 Possibly the conspicuous arrow- 
filled quiver was introduced into the carving at Heracles' shrine in 
allusion to this apparently famous legend,' 4 * which in consequence 
became in time transferred to Heracles-Verethraghna. 

The Median rock tombs 

Other evidence for continuity of religious life under the Seleucids 
comes from the "Median rock tombs". These were originally so 
termed on the supposition that they belonged to the period of the 
Median empire, forming thus a link between Urartian rock tombs 
and those of Darius and his successors. 145 It is now generally agreed 
that they are later, 146 and made in imitation of the Achaemenian 
royal tombs (which were probably directly inspired by Urartian 
models). 14 ' They can nevertheless properly keep the appellation 
first given them, since all but one 143 belong geographically to 

Gf. above, pp. 62-5. That there was no especial connection of his cult with 
the mountain jn pre-Seleucid times is shown not only by its OP name but also bv 
the fact that Ctesias (apud Diodorus, 1 7. 1 10.5) calls Mount Bagistanon hieron Dtis 
S fw t0 Zeu& " 1 - e - t0 Ahura Mazda (Schmitt, Elr. IV 290) 
144 Gumon t apud Stein, Old Routes, 34-3-4. Cf. below, pp. 484-6. 
i<5 S ° Bernard > art - cit < PP- 316-17 with n. 52. 

So Herzfeld notably in Felsreliefs, Am Tor, and Iran in the Ancient East 
Several of the tombs had been described by 1 9th-century travellers, but he was the 
hrst to consider them as a group. 

i4 * The basic study is by H. von Gall, "Zu den ^medischen' Felsgrabern in 
Nordwestiran und Iraqi Kurdistan^', AA 1966, 19-43, See further his articles 
Persische und medische Sramme", AMI 5, 1972, 277-83- "Neue Beobach- 
tungen zu den sog. Medischcn FeJsgriibem", Proceedings oi the 2nd Annual 
Symposium on Archaeological Research in Iran, ed. F. Bagherzadeh, Tehran 
1938' 557-82 "^ '^^ ^ " Da * Fels S rab von Q^qapan', BaM 19, 

'" Cf HZ II 111-12 and to the references given there add D. Huff, "Das 
Felsgrab von Esk, Dogubayazu", 1st. Mitt. 18, 1968, 58-86, and "Das Grab von 
uogubayazit. beme Stellung unterden urartaischen und iranischen Felsgrabern" 
Proceedings of the 10th Turk Tarih Kongresi, Ankara, 1986, pub 1990 87-95 
I.e. Da-u-Dukhtar in Persis, see below, pp. 120-1. 



Of these tombs we have already met that at Fakhrika in 
Atropatene 149 . Those in Greater Media are: Ishkewt-i Qizqapan 
and Ishkewt-i Kur-u-Kich in the north-west {now Iraqi Kurdis- 
tan); Dukkan-i Daud near Sar-i Pol-i Zohab, where the Khorasan 
Highway passed through a defile in the Zagros mountains; one by 
Ravansar, to the north-west of Kermanshah; another by Sakhna, 
between Kermanshah and Hamadan (Ecbatana), known as the 
tomb of Farhad-u-Shirin; and to the south of Behistun, a set of four 
not far from Issakvand. 150 All these have features of interest, in 
layout or decorative elements, but none bears an inscription. There 
are one or two other rock-cut cavities in Media which are quite 
featureless. 131 

There is no uniformity of design among these tombs, though 
several share common elements; but all appear to have had the 
same function, namely to provide a place for the remains of the 
dead where they could rest securely until Judgment Day without 
defiling the good creations. 152 Since the tombs are few in number, 
and were evidently costly in terms of labour to excavate and adorn, 
it is reasonable to suppose that they were those of great nobles, 
made on their own estates' 53 , with one or two perhaps belonging to 
chief magi, this being the homeland of the magi, the Median clan 
who, it seems, provided the first western priests of Zoroastrianism.' 54 
They were probably the earliest practitioners in western Iran of 
the rite of exposure of the dead; and several of the tombs in 
question, like that of Fakhrika, are astodanas i.e. ossuaries for 

149 Above, pp. 82-3. 

,M A sketch map of the sites (lacking only Ravansar, the last to be recorded) is 
given by von Gall, AA 1966, 20; and sketches of the ground plans and facades of 
all the tombs are set together by Huff, Proc. 10th Tiirk Tarih Kongr., Taf. 69-84. 
On them under the site names see also Vanden Berghe, Arch. 

151 Among them is an unfinished rock tomb known locally as Utaq-i Farhad, 
"Farhad's Room", to the south of Qa?r-i Shirin, see H. Rawlinson, JRGS 9, 1840, 
41: von Gall, art. cit., p. 25. 

iM So : essentially, von Gall, art. cit., p. +3; AMI, 1972, 282. 

153 Von Gall, who dates the tombs to late Achaemenian times, holds several of 
them to belong to tribal chiefs (AA 1966, 41-3: AMI, 1972, 282). 

154 Idem, AA 1966, 38 ff.; AMI, 1972, 279-80.— The present writer was wrong 
in suggesting (HZ II 85) that already in early Achaemenian times the term magus 
had probably lost its ethnic associations and simply meant for western Iranians 
"priest"; cf., e.g., above, the story of Gobares L 'the Mede". (She was also wrong in 
stating that Gaumata does not receive the title magus in the Babylonian version of 
Behistun. See E. N. von Voigtlander. the Bisutun Inscription of Darius the Great, 
Babylonian version, Corpus Ins. Iraniearum, Pt 1, Vol. II, London 1973, sections 
10—12.) The question remains open as to how long, or how consistently, the 
tradition that magi were Medes corresponded to fact. The search for an answer is 
not helped by the Greek practice of terming all Zoroastrian priests, whether from 
east or west Iran, magi, and often calling Persians Medes. 



holding excarnated bones. Evidence from the Achaemenian period 
shows, however, that by the end of the fifth century this rite was in 
use among the nobiJity also 155 , so that it is impossible on this basis 
to determine whether a tomb belonged to priest or baron. 

As for dating the tombs, the evidence comes from their layout, 
architectural and other details in the ornamentation of their fa- 
cades, and points in the pose, dress and accessories of figures in 
their reliefs. The difficulties arise largely from the meagreness of 
comparative data and problems in the way of establishing an 
absolute chronology. Thus the adaptation of Greek architectural 
forms by Persian craftsmen did not begin in the Hellenistic period, 
but went back to the days of Cyrus and Darius, while stylistic 
features found at Achaemenian palaces could be copied by masons 
in post- Achaemenian times. Devices from Achaemenian iconogra- 
phy also remained accessible to later generations, being visible on 
the stone walls of palaces and temples and in rock sculptures, and 
presumably also on family gems and seals and the sealings of 
documents, for however destructive Alexander's conquest had 
been, it could hardly have swept away all such private possessions. 

With dress too there is a lack of chronological clarity. It is 
recognized that under the Achaemenians the western Iranians 
wore two distinct types of costume, that termed the "Perso- 
Elamite" or "Persian", which was a long robe, and the "Median", 
which consisted of a horseman's garb of tunic, trousers, and sleeved 
coat; 156 and it is often assumed that the "Persian" robe disappeared 
with the Achaemenian empire. There is no obvious reason, how- 
ever, why it should have done so. It must have been cool and 
comfortable to wear in the hot Iranian summers; and as far as 
fashion and example went, the tunic of the conquering Hellenes 
approximated more to it than to the "Median" dress. It is not 
surprising therefore to find evidence for the wearing of modified 
forms of the "Persian " robe still in Hellenistic times; but a potential 
indication of date thereby disappears. 

Yet not all is negative. In particular an important observation 
has been made with regard to dating the four tombs which, with 
Fakhrika, share the feature of an open antechamber with columns, 
carved usually in the round. These give the monuments a very 
different appearance from that of the Achaemenian royal tombs 
with their solid flat facades, decorated with engaged pillars be- 
tween which the tomb entrance is recessed only a little way into the 

155 Cf. HZ II 210, 211. 
,56 CL ib., p. JO. 



cliff face. This was the type for all royal tombs from Darius I to the 
end of his dynasty; and it seems most unlikely that the Great Kings 
would have permitted any of their subjects not only to imitate their 
sepulchres but also while doing so to introduce an impressive new 
architectural feature. 157 It appears much more probable that this 
innovation owed its origin to a new influence, that of the Hellenes, 
who may be supposed to have allowed their subjects complete 
freedom in such matters. 

Another feature of several of the tombs which has been attrib- 
uted to Hellenistic influence is that of a carefully cut and squared 
rectangular frame round a relief or entrance, instead of simply a 
smoothed area of rock. 158 On the basis of these two criteria, ante- 
chamber and squared frame, almost all the Median tombs can be 
assigned to post-Achaemenian times — either Seleucid or early Ar- 
sacid; and there are other indications for individual tombs that 
support this dating. 

There is only one tomb which in its present state yields no 
evidence of date. This is at Ravansar, 159 a little town to the 
north-west of Kermanshah. Here there are numerous ancient re- 
mains, including a pillar-base and pottery from Achaemenian 
times. The town is built round the foot of a huge isolated rock, into 
whose northern face the tomb is cut, looking out over the plain. An 
area was smoothed to form a vertical facade with a narrow ledge at 
its foot; and at one side of this facade a rectangular doorway was 
made, probably to be closed by a single slab of stone. This leads 
directly into the tomb chamber, which is roughly square and quite 
plain. There is nothing to indicate how the dead were disposed of in 
it, but it is large enough to have held several coffins or numerous 
receptacles for bones. Outside there are carvings in the smoothed 
area, but so badly weathered and defaced that there is no certainty 
as to what they depict. Above the tomb the cliffis almost sheer, but 
from below it is accessible, no attempt having been made to smooth 
away the rock; and this accords with the likelihood that it was a 
family one, used repeatedly. 

157 So D. Stronach, "The Kuh-i Shahrak Fire-Altar", JNES XXV, 1966, 221 
wilh n.30. Huff, Proc. JOth Turk Tarih Kongr M 92-3. 

158 N. C. Debevoise, "The rock reliefs of ancient Iran", JNES I, 194-2, 89. 
Contra von Gall, AA 1966, 33-4, who for one example (Dukkan-i Daud) seeks 
parallels in Paphlagonian rock graves; but since, as he himself maintains (p. 43), 
the Median tombs derive from royal Achaemenian prototypes, such remote com- 
parisons are hardly helpful. 

159 ■j i hj s t om b W as known to Herzfeld, but he was not able to visit it. On it see 
M. Golzari, Kermanshahan-i bastan. Kermanshah, n.d., 29 ff.; P. Calmever, 
"Das Grabreliefvon Ravansar", AMI II, 19/fr 73-85. 



Near the village of Issakvand in the district ofHarsin, south of 
Behistun, are four small rock chambers which are undoubtedly 
ossuaries, not being large enough to receive a corpse. 160 One of 
these, by the village of Surkhkade (Surkhade) on the left bank of 
the Gamas Ab, is cut in a mountain slope high above the valley 
floor. 161 Its rectangular entrance, which appears to have been 
closed by a stone slab, is set in the upper part of a smoothed 
rectangular panel; and this is surrounded by a double border of 
recessed lines, looking like the framework of a door. The mountain 
side can be fairly easily climbed, so the ossuary may have been 
repeatedly used. 

Further up the Gamas Ab, in the narrow valley of a small 
right-bank tributary and opposite the abandoned village of Deh-i 
no, are three other ossuaries, in a group near the base of a cliff. 162 Of 
them it is the middle one which offers the most interest. Its entrance 
is framed by a single border; and, as if standing on this, is the 
somewhat clumsily carved figure of a man. 163 He is clad in a 
sleeved, calf-length robe, and is bearded and bare-headed, his 
unbound hair reaching almost to his shoulders. He stands in an 
attitude of prayer, with both hands raised — an attitude which has 
its support in Zoroaster's own words, 164 but which is not portrayed 
in Achaemenian art. There the convention is of one raised hand. 
The pose with two uplifted hands is often shown, however, in 
Seleucid times (notably on the Jrataraka coins of Persis). Other 
pointers to a Seleucid date for the Deh-i no carving is that a solitary 

J. de Morgan, who was the first to notice three of these ossuaries, approached 
them up the valley of the Gamas Ab, and did not mention the small village of 
Issakvand, which lies to the east. This was first used as a reference point for these 
monuments by Oskar Mann, who came on them from the direction ofHarsin. He 
heard the village's name as "Issakawand ,: . Subsequently Herzfeld made the form 
"Sakavand" current, until it was noted by von Gall that this did not correspond 
with local usage, which seems now to be predominantly Issakvand, variant 

161 First noticed and described by Mann. "Archaologisches aus Persien", 
Globus 83, 1903, 328 (for a photocopy of which article I am indebted to the 
kindness of Dr. Huff). Mann heard the village name as Surkhkade, but it has since 
been referred to as Surkhade(h), Surkh(a) Deh. See Stein, Old Routes, 311; von 
Gall, AA 1966, 29; G. Gropp, "Bericht iiber eine Reise in "West- und Sudiran", 
AMI 3, 1970, 175 with Taf. 78.3.: M. Golzari, o.c, in n. 159, p. 27. 

162 First noticed and described by J. de Morgan, Mission scientifique en Perse, 
IV (1896), 299-301 with fig. 179, Taf 32, 33. Further Vanden Berghe, Arch. PI 
132. c; von Gall, art. cit., pp. 28-9; Gropp, AMI 2, 1969, Taf. 65.1 and 3, 1970, 175; 
Golzari, o.c, p. 25; von Gall, AMI 5, 1972, Taf. 74. 1; Proc. 2nd Annual Symposium 
on Archaeological Research in Iran, 141 with Abb. 6. 

Herzfeld, seeing these as ossuaries of Median magi, romantically interpreted 
this middle one as belonging to Gaumata, with his representation carved above it 
164 Y 29.5. 



figure would be unusual in Achaemenian sculpture but is common 
in Hellenistic monumental art. Further, the worshipper's pose, 
with a suggestion of ardent movement, contrasts with the calm, 
controlled stance characteristic of Achaemenian figures. 165 It is 
moreover exceptional for a Zoroastrian to have the head uncov- 
ered, and Iranians are not so represented in Achaemenian or 
Sasanian art, this being presumably a fleeting fashion due to 
Hellenistic example. A datable parallel to the figure at Deh-i no is 
provided by the carving of Mithradates I at Behistun. There the 
Arsacid is portrayed in the same attitude, and is likewise bare- 
headed and wears his hair in the same way; and since the two 
reliefs are not far apart, they may, it is suggested, have been carved 
at about the same time, that is around 140 B.C., towards the very 
end of the Seleucid era in Iran. 166 

Additions were made thereafter to the Deh-i no carving which 
would accordingly belong to Arsacid or possibly even Sasanian 
times; but it is nevertheless practical to consider them here. 167 A 
tkymiaterion or incense-burner was introduced, 168 and a much smaller 
figure was added in front of the first one. It is of a man standing, 
also with both arms raised, before a fire-holder as tall as himself, 
with flames leaping up above his head. The fire-holder is of the type 
found at Pasargadae and represented in the funerary reliefs of 
Darius and his descendants, that is, it has a rectangular shaft with 
three-stepped top and base. 169 The man is wearing tunic, trousers, 
and a distinctive type of tiara, with a peak jutting forward over his 
forehead. He has been seen as a magus, representing perhaps the 
priests who performed the soul-rites at the astodana, and hence 
portrayed on a smaller scale than the noble worshipper whose 
family these priests served;" but this is necessarily speculative, 
since there appears to be no way of distinguishing priest from 
layman in such sculptures. Both might wear "Median" dress, and 
laymen were regularly shown in devotional attitudes, from Darius 
onward. Noblemen moreover used the baresman in acts of 
worship/ 71 and shared with priests the obligation to protect sacred 

165 These points were made by Dr. Huff to the writer by letter. 

166 Huff, Proc. 10th Turk Tarih Kongr., 93-4. 

167 On them see von Gall, AA 1966, 29 n. 7; AMI 3, 1972, 278-9, who thought 
that the first figure too had been added some time after the ossuary was made. 
Contra Gropp, AMI 3, 175. 

168 Identified as such by Gropp, I.e. 
1M Cf. HZ II 51-2, 113. 

170 Von Gall, AMI 5, 279-80, 282. 

171 Cf. below, p. 331 n. 1 13. (The suggestion by the writer, HZ II 146, 147, that 
a layman might regularly hold the baresman in the right hand, a priest in the left, is 
rightly rejected by von Gall, BaM 19, 567 n. 26.) 





objects from contact with their breath (hence both could be por- 
trayed using the tiara as mouth-protection). Originally, it has been 
suggested, colour might have been the indicator, but with the paint 
worn away, this piece of evidence is lost. 172 

To the north-east of Behistun the tomb near Sakhna known as 
"Farhad-u-Shirin" is unquestionably for bodies, not disarticulated 
bones. 173 This is hewn out of a cliff well above the floor of a narrow 
valley. The cliff face was smoothed away to form a perpendicular 
wall, and in this was cut the antechamber to the tomb, with two 
free-standing columns forming an imposing facade; but the mass of 
rock above has crushed these, and only one badly damaged base 
remains. The base is thought to resemble (even more closely than 
those of the outer columns at Fakhrika) the "bell" form of certain 
Achaemenian bases. 174 The antechamber has a small doorway in 
the back wall, over which is the familiar device of the winged disk. 
This is carefully carved, with tail and appendages, and (as in 
various Achaemenian representations) has a pair of horns, symbol 
of divinity, set on its upper rim. 175 The doorway opens into a square 
chamber with two deep sarcophagi carved out of its sides, as in the 
Achaemenian royal tombs. Between them, against the back wall, a 
short shaft leads down to a second chamber, cut further back into 
the cliff. Here a third sarcophagus is sunk in the floor by its back 
wall. This is the only two-storeyed tomb known in Iran. At the foot 
of the smoothed area of rock a broad terrace was cut out of the 
cliff-face, possibly for the performance of soul-rites there. 176 

Another tomb with columned antechamber is Dukkan-i Daud 
("David's shop") near Sar-i pol-i Zohab. 177 This was carved out at 
even greater height, in a smoothed perpendicular area within a 

172 See HZ II 20-1, 107. — lb., p. 147, it was argued that a man on a small stone 
relief from Dascylium, now in the Istanbul museum, must be a noble rather than a 
priest because his cloak is reddish purple. Von Gall saw it as red, not purple (art. 
cit., p. 568); but both observations are valueless, for Professor Stronach assures me 
that the colouring is modern. The walls of the museum room are decorated in this 
shade, and some of the paint was applied to the relief. Von Gall, I.e. with Abb. 5.c, 
also cited as magi 2 figures from the Dura mithraeum, now known to be wearing 
Palmyrenian dress and probably donor portraits, see below, pp. 489, 549 n. 187, 

173 Herzfeld, Am Tor, 8 ff.; von Gall, AA 1966, 21, 23 ff.; Vanden Berghe, Arch., 
PL 134a. 

174 Von Gall, art. cit., p. 32 with Abb. 13, 14. 

175 Cf. HZ II 102-3 with n. 75. 

176 Gropp, AMI 3, 1970, 173-4 with Taf. 78.2. 

177 First reported by H. Rawlinson, JRGS 9, 1840, 38 f; for bibliography see von 
Gall, AA 1966, 23; illustrated in Sarre-Herzfeld, Felsreliefs, Abb. 20, 21; Herzfeld, 
Am Tor, Abb. 3 and Iran in the Ancient East, Taf. 25; von Gall, art. cit., Abb. 9, 10, 
and Proc. 2nd Annual Symposium on Archaeological Research in Iran, pp. 139, 140 
with Abb. 1, 3, 4. 

great cliff that towers on above the tomb. Again the weight of 
overhanging rock has cracked and destroyed the column-shafts, but 
here both capitals and bases survive. The capitals are of abacus 
form while the bases derive from an Achaemenian type of a torus 
set on two round plinths. 179 The whole antechamber is surrounded 
by a carefully cut rectangular frame, consisting of two deep re- 
cessed bands with a third band along the top. In its back wall is a 
small entrance to a rectangular tomb chamber, of which all one 
shorter side is taken up by a sarcophagus, hollowed out of the rock. 
Whereas the Sakhna tomb seems intended for three members of 
one family, Dukkan-i Daud thus appears to have been the costly 
mausoleum of a single great person. 

Almost at the base of the smoothed area, and set to one side, is a 
relief known as Kal-i Daud, "David's stele". This shows a man 
standing within a well-proportioned rectangular frame. 179 He wears 
an ankle-length robe with perhaps almost as long a coat over it, and 
holds in his left hand the long baresman, while his right is raised in 
the familiar gesture of reverence. On his head is a tiara, its side- 
flaps brought across his mouth (beard showing beneath), and a 
peak jutting sharply forward over his forehead, as with the tiara of 
the little figure in the Deh-i no relief. A similar tiara is worn by a 
man carved in the doorway of a Persepolis house, and by others on 
the frataraka coins, these Persid examples being all attributable to 
Hellenistic times; 180 but also by a man in "Median" dress on a seal 
of the fifth century B.C. from Dascylion, so that the fashion was not 
new. 181 Both he and the Persepolis man are shown in the same pose 
as the Kal-i Daud figure— long baresman in one hand, the other 
hand raised— which suggests that this was a long-established con- 
vention for depicting a devout Zoroastrian. The Kal-i Daud figure 
is generally referred to as a magus, but there seems nothing positive 
to identify him as such. 

A third tomb with antechamber is Ishkewt-i Qizqapan (Kurd- 
ish for "Gave of the Ravisher") in north-west Media. This is 
hollowed out of a cliff at a point where the Surqaushan leaves the 
fertile Surdash valley and forces its way through a winding gorge to 

178 Von Gall, AA 1966, 25. . . 

1,9 The frame is clearly shown in the drawing by de Morgan, o.c. m n. lb/, 1 v p. 
300 fig. 178; and in photographs by Vanden Berghe, Arch PL \f-%^° 1 ^ 
o.c. in n. 159, p. 24. For another photograph see von Gall, AMI 1972, lat. /4.4. 
On the long baresman see HZ II 3&-9. 

l80 Seebelow, pp. 117, 114. 

181 Von Gall, art. cit., p. 278, with Taf. 74.2 (reproduced from Akurgal, Kunst 
Anatoliens, Abb. 120). 





join the Little Zab. 182 The tomb is set high in this cliff, with below it 
the rock smoothed away. Again the antechamber has two central 
columns, but here they are engaged to the back wall, and remain 
almost intact. They too have simple bases of Iranian type, with 
square plinth and torus; but the capitals, though of Ionic inspira- 
tion, are massive, and declare "by the heaviness of the volutes and 
the lack of an echinus" their provincial character. 183 Over them the 
rock is elaborately worked to represent a wooden roof, with eaves. 
Between the columns a small doorway leads into the original 
tomb chamber. Two other chambers, hollowed out later, open out 
of this to left and right, through similar doorways. Each was 
evidently provided with its own door, and details in the way these 
were closed, and also in the imitation rafters of the antechamber 
roof, have been compared with similar features at those Karafto 
caves which are assigned to Hellenistic times. 184 The three cham- 
bers, all rectangular and of roughly the same size, are together of 
almost exactly the same width as the antechamber. In each there 
is a single cavity in the floor along one wall, with a rim for a stone 
lid. These cavities are judged not quite large enough to have re- 
ceived articulated bodies, so this tomb appears to have been an 

Above the entrance to the central chamber is a relief, filling the 
upper half of the space between the columns. This shows two men 
facing each other across a fire-holder of the standard type, as 
represented in the Deh-i no relief, but with the fire on it shown by a 
simple semi-circle instead of the usual jagged pyramid of flame. 
The motif of a sacred fire flanked by two men at prayer is found on 
Achaemenian seals,'* 6 and was to be a standard Sasanian device. 
At Qizqapan the figures, three-quarters life-size, stand each with 
right hand raised in the attitude of reverence, and the left grasping 
the tip of a bow, whose other end rests on the ground by his 
advanced foot. This is exactly the pose in which Darius had himself 
portrayed both in the Behistun relief and above his tomb, where he 
too stands before fire in a similar holder. He however holds a 
simple bow, whereas the Qizqapan men grasp compound ones of 

On the location and tomb see C.J. Edmonds, "A tomb in Kurdistan'' Iraq 

I, 1934, 183-92 with Pis. XXIII-XXVI; further von Gall, AA 1966, 27; Proc 

2nd Annual Symposium on Archaeological Research in Iran. 141-2 wi'th Abb 7 

8; and BaM 19, 1988, 557-80. ' ' 

!£ Von Gall, AA 1966, 27. 

}M See Huff, Proc. Ifjth Turk Tarih Kongr., 93; and further on the door- 
fastenings von Gall, BaM 1988, 559-60. 
Von Gall, ib, p. 561 
185 Cf. HZ II 145, 146. 

the so-called "Parthian" type. 187 Both wear tiaras, with the side- 
pieces over their mouths, across their beards; but otherwise they 
are dressed quite differently. The one on the left is in ''Median" 
costume, with tunic and (it seems) trousers, and a coat reaching to 
his ankles- This he wears in a fashion characteristic of the 
standard-length kandys y that is, like a cloak, an empty sleeve being 
shown hanging down. The man on the right wears a calf-length 
robe, like the worshipper in the Deh-i no relief. Their bows would 
seem to identify both men as nobles, 166 and conceivably they 
represent two generations of a family, the elder by choice in one 
kind of garb, the younger in another. 

Continuity with Achaemenian iconography is further shown in a 
device carved above this central scene. This is a rendering of a 
familiar Achaemenian one. and shows a bearded, crowned figure 
set in a circle representing the moon's orb. 189 He rises from its lower 
rim, which is thickened to indicate the lunar crescent. In his raised 
right hand he holds a flower, and traces of red colouring remain in 
his crown, though the stone here is badly weathered. 190 

To the right of the entrance, and at the same level as this device, 
is another, set within a circle of the same size. This (in which again 
there appear traces of reddish paint) consists of a central boss 
surrounded by eleven rays or petals, with little semi-circles at their 
tips. 191 It has been identified as a rosette, 192 but more often as a 
stellar device, in harmony with the neighbouring moon symbol; 193 

187 On simple and compound ("double-convex") bows in Achaemenian sculp- 
ture see D. Huff, "Das Felsrelief von Qir", AMI 17, 1984, 234-8. The compound 
bow is there shown always carried in a case; but von Gall has drawn attention to 
the fact that it is represented uncased on coins of the Cilician satrap Dalames c. 
375 B.C. — On the shape and manufacture of the compound bow (regularly 
featured on Arsacid coins, hence the term ''Parthian") see F. E. Brown, "A 
recently discovered compound bow", Seminarium Kondakovianum IX, Prague 
1937, 1-10; E. McEwen, "Persian archery texts . . .", The Islamic Quarterly 
XVIII, 1976, 76-99 (references which I owe to the kindness of Professor Bivar). 
On archaeological evidence for the use of both simple and compound bows among 
Iranians in Achaemenian and later times see B. A. Litvinskij, Eiaenzeitliche 
Kurgane zwischen Pamir und Aral-Sec, Munich 1934, 39—41; Antike und 
fruhmittelalterliche Grabhugel im westlichen Fergana-Becken, Tadjikistan, Mu- 
nich 1986, 76-81. 

188 Ghirshman, Perses, Proto-Iraniens, Medes, Achemenides, Paris 1963, 18; 
von Gall, Proc. 2nd Annual Symposium on Archaeological Research in Iran, 142; 
BaM 1988. 567-8. 

m Cf. HZ II 1 14-15; von Gall, BaM 19, 572 (with n. 55). 

190 Edmunds, art. cit., p. 187 and Pis XXIVb, XXVa; von Gall, I.e. 

191 Edmunds, art. cit., p. 189 and PI. XXVIb; von Gall, art. cit., p. 575 with 
Taf. 27 d. 

192 H.J. Kantor, "Achaemenid jewellery in the Oriental Institute", JNES XVI, 
1957, 17. 

193 Herzfeld, Iran in the Ancient East, 203-5; H. P. Francfort, Fouilles d'Ai 





but nothing like it has yet been noticed elsewhere to help in its 

To the left of the entrance, and at a slightly lower level than the 
two roundels, is a third device set in a rough square. This, though 
much weathered, can be seen to be a crude rendering of the 
Achaemenian one of a figure in a winged circle. 194 The figure is 
reduced to a bearded head, wearing a low crown, and the hands, 
one raised in salutation; and, as in a number of Achaemenian 
renderings of this symbol, there are two pairs of wings, 195 the upper 
ones curling up around the head, the lower ones straight, with faint 
indications beneath them of the ribands and tail. The asymmetrical 
placing of this device, and in a square instead of a roundel, spoils 
the balance of the facade's decoration, and makes it unlikely that 
this was planned as a whole. 

This third device is a variant of the simple winged circle, as 
carved over the entrance of the Sakhna tomb. It was clearly very 
popular among western Iranians; and since they had adopted it 
from the Assyrians, 196 the meanings and uses of its Assyrian pro- 
totype appear relevant to an understanding of its significance for 
them. 197 In Assyria the winged disk represented a god Salmu 
(whose name may even be that of the device itself); and "Salmu" 
occurs as a by-name for the sun god Shamash, in keeping with the 
device's origin as a solar symbol. The device could be set, as a 
symbol of power, over any god or mortal who enjoyed a sovereign 
role. Oaths of loyalty to particular kings were sworn on it; but it 
seems also to have been a popular symbol, which appears abun- 
dantly, perhaps as a good-luck charm, on jewels, armour and 
weapons. All this accords admirably with Iranian use of the symbol 
to represent kkvarenah 7 the divinely sent "fortune" which is linked 
with the radiant sun, and through which kings, heroes and lesser 
mortals prosper, failing if it deserts them. 198 Presumably the symbol 
acquired both talismanic and apotropaic powers, and so came to be 
set even on tombs. 

Khanoum III (Mem. DAFA XXVII), 1984, 99; von Gall, I.e. 

194 Edmunds, art.cit., pp.187, 189; von Gall, art. cit., p. 573 with Taf. 27 c. 
155 Cf. HZ II 115; von Gall, art. cit., p. 574 Abb. b. 

196 Kantor, art. cit., p. 16, points out that of 3 closely related symbols — winged 
disk, figure in winged circle with I pair of wings, and figure in winged circle with 2 
pairs of wings — only the last is special to Iran. 

197 On these see S. Dallev, "The god Salmu and the winged disk", Iraq 
XLVIII, 1986, 85-101. 

198 For references for this interpretation of the Iranian understanding of the 
symbol see HZ II 103 n. 82. Dalley's admirable analysis of its Assyrian uses 
further undermines the former Western interpretation of it as representing Ahura 

Something of the same significance seems to have attached to the 
symbol of the moon disk (also adopted by the Iranians from their 
Near Eastern neighbours 199 ), since the moon too was thought by its 
radiance to distribute khvarenah to the earth; 200 and the figure in the 
moon disk appears likewise to have been used as a charm, often in 
auspicious multiples of three, six and seven. 201 This symbol was 
perhaps thought to be especially appropriate to set at a tomb, since 
the moon governed the night which belonged to the spirits of the 
dead, xht fravasis . 

Close to Qizqapan, in another limestone cliff, is the tomb called 
in Kurdish Ishkewt-i Kur-u-Kich, "Cave of the boy and girl". 202 It 
is not set so high up, and, the rock beneath having been left rough, 
can be reached fairly easily. Here again there is an antechamber 
but it, like those at Dukkan-i Daud and Sakhna, had two free- 
standing columns which have broken away, leaving the base of one 
only, with a little bit of shaft. This base is again the simple type of 
square plinth and torus. Above, two great beams are carved across 
the width of the roof, as if resting on these columns. The facade has no 
other ornament. A low entrance leads into a small chamber, which 
is divided almost exactly in half by a coffin-shaped receptacle sunk 
in the floor to one side. This is small, making it probable that this 
too was a family astodana. 

This is the last of the major Median rock tombs; and, apart from 
the undatable Ravansar, there seem good grounds for assigning all 
of them to a post-Achaemenian date. 203 The men for whom they 
were made evidently employed masons who were familiar with 

Mazda (defended by P. Lecoq, "Un probleme de religion achemenide: Ahura 
Mazda ou Xvarnah?", Orientalia J. Duchesne-Guillemin oblata, Acta Ir. 23, 
301-26; von Gall, art. cit., pp. 573-5). It is probably wrong to look for any 
representations of Iranian gods before the late 5th cent. B.C. 

199 Cf. HZ II 114. 

JO0 Ib. t p. 115. 

201 Notably (in stylized form) in threes on the 10 spacer-beads of a pearl 
necklace, and in sixes on 2 gold buttons, all found in a sarcophagus at Susa, see de 
Morgan, Recherches archeologiques III (Mission archeologique en Iran, 
Memoires VIII}, Paris 1905, pp. 51 fig. 79, 52 fig. 80, with Pis. IV.2, 3, V. 6; 
Kantor, art. cit., p. 15 fig. A; J. F. X. McKeon, "Achaemenian cloisonne-inlay 
jewellery'', Alter Orient und Altes Testament 22, 1973, 116 fig. 5. In sevens on 2 
superb earrings (very much alike but not in fact forming a pair, as P. Calmeycr 
has shown in an as yet unpublished study), for reference to which see HZ II 93 n. 
23. Its occurrence in these varying multiples destroys the theory that a grouping of 
7 of these devices represented the khvarenah of the Great King and 6 leading 
Persian nobles, on the pattern of the Zoroastrian Heptad (HZ II 93— 4r). 

2m Edmunds, art, cit., p. 190 with PI. XXVII.b, c; von Gall, art. cit., pp. 580-1 
with Taf 30-32. 

2ca HZ II 291 n. 18 is to be modified accordingly. Von Gall appears to be alone 
in arguing consistently for an Achaemenian dating for the group. 





Achaemenian architectural forms and devices, but were also able to 
use Hellenistic elements. Despite this limited concession to contem- 
porary taste, the tombs represent a notable continuity with 
Achaemenian religious tradition, both in their essential character 
and purpose and in their iconography (worshippers before a fire- 
holder or with baresman, the kkvarenah symbols). 


In cities the Zoroastrians of Greater Media were not apparently 
able freely to foster the institutions of their faith under Seleucid 
rule, witness the continuing dilapidation of Anahit's great temple 
in Ecbatana and the flight of the magi from Raga. The rock tombs 
show, however, that in country districts a few wealthy families were 
able to spend fairly lavishly in adopting what had been the estab- 
lished way for their former kings to dispose of the dead; and from 
this it may reasonably be deduced that they supported their reli- 
gion locally in other ways also, for the benefit of their own souls and 
the salvation of the world. It is also very likely that they, and lesser 
people, went on pilgrimage, when opportunity offered, to Adur 
Gusnasp in Atropatene and the older sanctuaries at Raga; for the 
Seleucids do not seem to have prevented the normal movement of 
travellers. 204 Craftsmen appear to have wandered, seeking patrons, 
as is suggested by the stylistic details which link the Hellenistic 
temple at Khurha with Zoroastrian rock-tombs, and the latter with 
the caves at Karafto; and minstrels may be assumed to have done 
so too. Ties were probably thus maintained between Greater 
Media and Media Atropatene, to the benefit of the religious life of 
the former, hampered as this apparently was to some degree by 
alien interests and controls. 


To the south-east of Media lay Persis, the homeland of the 
Achaemenians but not, geographically, a natural centre of power 
within Iran, situated as it was well off the great highway that 
formed the main link between its western and eastern regions. In 
physical terms Persis has been described as a series of steps 
descending from the central plateau down to the Persian Gulf. 205 
Pasargadae stood in the highest, most northerly "step" which 

bordered on Media, with Persepolis in the next one down, in the 
wide Marvdasht. The fertile plains and valleys of Persis were 
divided from one another by mountain ranges, stretches of salt 
desert and large swampy depressions, so that much of the region 
was barren; and these natural features broke it into smaller areas 
where, it seems, even under Seleucid suzerainty certain Persian 
families came to exert semi-independent power; but the history of 
such developments is obscure, and has to be put together from 
meagre and sometimes seemingly conflicting data. 

Although Persis lacked any great natural wealth, it had evidently 
prospered notably under the Achaemenians as the heartland of 
their vast empire; and still some decades after the Macedonian 
conquest it could be said of it that it "furnished in plenty every- 
thing needed for luxury and enjoyment". 206 

The Hellenistic element 

Little is known of Macedonian rule over Persis after the dismissal 
of Peucestas in 316, apart from the names of one or two of its satraps. 
Peucestas seems to have kept the ruined city of Persepolis as the 
centre of his administration, 207 and there five small stone slabs 
were discovered that came presumably from altars to Greek gods; 
for each is inscribed with the name in the genitive of a Greek 
divinity: Zeus Megistos, Athena Basileia, Apollo, Artemis and 
Helios. 208 These are carved in a "splendid script of early Hellenistic 
times" 209 , and there is nothing to suggest any accommodation with 
Iranian beliefs. It was nevertheless assumed at first that these 
names were used to represent Iranian divinities, with Zeus for 
Ahura Mazda, Athena and Artemis for Anahit, Apollo and Helios 
(as at Commagene) for Mithra. Athena does not, however, stand 
elsewhere for Anahit, whose Greek counterparts were regularly 
Artemis or Aphrodite; and five separate dedications for three 
divinities would be very strange. 210 The only justification for mak- 
ing such identifications was that the slabs came to light somewhere 
near the ruins of the so-called Fratadara temple. This is a puzzling 
building, to be discussed below in its Iranian context; but wherever 

20 * Cf. below, pp. 147-8. 
aos Frye, History, 8. 

206 Diodorus XIX.22.1 (cf, above, p. 20). 

207 See ibid. 

206 Herzfeld, AHI, 44. See further Robert, CRAI 1967, 282; Frye, o.c, p. 1 58 n. 
58. The stones were taken to Chicago. 

™ Robert, l,c, cf. Herzfeld, AHI, 46. 

210 Thus at Nimrud Dagh Apollo- Mithra-Helios-Hermes is one god, with one 
statue, altar and dedication (see below, pp. 322, 323). 



exactly the five altars originally stood, it seems that in fact the 
victorious Macedonians set them up simply to their own gods. 2 " 

The names only are known of Greek cities founded in Persis, with 
no certain identifications of sites; but the strong probability is that 
Antiochia-in- Persis, on the Persian Gulf, was at Bushire. 212 A letter 
from there survives, inscribed with many related documents on a 
wall at Magnesia-on-the-Maeander in distant Ionia. Magnesia had 
sent out colonists to diverse places in the east, 213 including (as it 
emerges from the letter in question) this Antiochia; and one of the 
wall inscriptions explains that, its patron goddess Artemis having 
manifested herself in a dream to her city priestess, and the Delphic 
oracle having been consulted, its citizens resolved "to hold crowned 
games for the inhabitants of Asia . . . that so they should do honour 
to Artemis Leucophryene . . . if they came to Magnesia to the holy 
altar and brought gifts pleasing to the city goddess". 2 ' 4 Eventually 
they sent envoys accordingly to the kings and cities of Asia. The 
kings — the Seleucid Antiochus III and his son and co-regent 
Antiochus, Attalus I of Pergamurn. and Ptolemy IV of Egypt — all 
responded favourably, their letters being duly engraved. ?ij The 
envoys to Antiochus III met him in 205 at Antiochia-in-Persis, on 
his return from his great circuit of the east, 216 and they evidently 
carried a letter for the citizens of Antiochia also, whose answer 
likewise survives intact. 217 It begins with ready acquiescence to 
Magnesia's request, and praise for that city's Hellenic zeal and 
loyalty to the Seleucid king. Old ties of kinship are recalled that 
bound their two communities together; it is stated that Antiochia- 
in-Persis had been strengthened by Antiochus I; and finally that 
city makes an appeal of its own, asking for new settlers to come out 
to reinforce its citizen body. This letter is dated by the magistrate 
of the year in which it was sent, who was also chief priest of the 
city-cult of the deified Seleucid kings, both those who were dead 
and the living Antiochus III and his son; and to it, it is recorded, 
Magnesia responded favourably in its turn, sending out men "ad- 
equate in number and distinguished for virtue". 218 These must 

31 ' In view of their early dale, some scholars identify them with the altars set up 
by Peucestas at the meeting in Persis of the confederate army in 316 (above, p. 20). 

212 Tarn, Alexander, I 257; GBI, 418. 

213 Cf. below, p. 180. 

214 Welles, Royal correspondence, 145-6. 
21i Ib.,pp. 141-5. 

216 Cf. above, p. 30. 

217 O. Kern, Ins. von Magnesia, 61, OGIS 233, with emendations by Robert, 
Hellenica VII, 1949, 20 n. 

2,8 See Bevan, House, I 280-1, II 7; Will, Hist, pol., II 65. 



have been among the last Ionian settlers in Iran; for in 190 
Antiochus' defeat at Magnesia-by-Sipylus brought western Asia 
Minor into Rome's sphere of influence. 

This letter from Antiochia sheds a tiny shaft of light on the 
obscure history of Hellenism in Persis, showing this city function- 
ing normally still as a polls at the end of the third century, and 
staunchly upholding Greek ways. Yet its appeal to Magnesia 
suggests that its citizens were not without apprehension of becom- 
ing outnumbered by those of local or mixed descent. As for active 
causes of fear, it is recorded that, under a king Antiochus, Nume- 
nius, governor of Mesene at the head of the Gulf, defeated "Per- 
sians*' (i.e. some sort of Iranians) by sea and land near the Straits 
of Hormuz; 219 and it has been reasonably supposed that his succes- 
ses were in putting down pirates, 220 who must have become a 
serious menace to call for such measures. It was presumably to 
defend commercial interests against these and other threats that a 
Hellenistic fortress was established on the little island of Ikaros 
(modern Failaka) near Mesene, now part of the state of Kuwait. 221 
A damaged inscription shows that (if the date has been rightly 
deciphered) this fortress was founded by Seleucus II, in the forties 
of the third century B.C. Within its walls the remains of two Greek 
temples were excavated and in the larger one pillars were uncovered 
which had bases of Persian type but Ionic capitals 222 — exactly the 
blend of Iranian and Greek elements which is found in the pillars of 
several of the Median rock tombs, and the Persid one of Da-u- 
Dukhtar. The architectural ornament in some instances imitates 
Greek models closely, but is purely linear, lacking the sculptural 
quality of Hellenistic works of art from Greece itself; so that the 
buildings appear to be the products of local workmen. 223 This 
fortress seems to have been maintained for only about fifty years. 

In inland Persis the varied terrain was well calculated to allow 
local unrest to gather head. Evidence of uprisings is limited, 
however, to one stray story told by Polyaenus. 224 According to this, 
under king Seleucus a certain Seiles lured 3000 Persians who were 
planning revolt into an ambush, where he used Macedonian and 

319 Pliny VI. 152. 
720 Will, o.c, p. 64. 

221 See K. Jeppesen, "A Hellenistic fortress on the island of Ikaros (Failaka) in 
the Persian Gulf', Le rayonnement des civilisations grecquc et romaine sur les 
cultures peripheriques, 8e Congres International d'Archeologie Classique, Paris 
1963, pub. 1965, 541-4. 

222 lb., plates vol., PI. 136.1. 

223 lb., text vol., p. 543. 
Si4 VII.39. 



Thracian troops to slaughter them to a man. Which Seleucus is 
meant is not known; but other evidence points to the Macedonian 
dynasty having been able to maintain satraps in Persis until at least 
the reign of Antiochus III, the last to be named being the Alexan- 
der who joined his brother Molon, satrap of Media, in rebelling 
against this king in 223, at the beginning of his reign. 225 Thereafter 
Persian troops are known to have fought at Raphia in 217. 22G 
Control of the Gulf zone was probably maintained largely by sea, 
but where the satraps of Persis resided is not known. It was not 
evidently at Pasargadae, where there is a striking dearth of Seleucid 
coins after those of Seleucus I. Perhaps it was at or soon after his 
death in 280 that this ancient Achaemenian capital was swept by 
fire, being re-occupied, it seems, at only a humble level. 227 As for 
Persepolis, authority there appears to have been delegated fairly 
soon to native governors, who at times seem to have enjoyed virtual 

The Iranian element 
The fralarakas 

Evidence for the existence of these quasi- autonomous local gov- 
ernors comes almost solely from coins. 228 The Achaemenians struck 
no coins in Iran itself, and the Atropatids of Lesser Media likewise 
issued none. The Seleucids, however, minted strikingly handsome 
coins within Iran, and under their rule the Greek terms 'drachma and 
denanos entered the Persian language (to survive today as dirham 
and denar). In Persis the local dynasty of the fralarakas followed the 
example of their foreign overlords, a number of their coins (which 
were of silver only) being overstruck on posthumous issues of 
Alexander's. 229 Their coinage was produced evidently for prestige 
rather than to meet any practical need, its circulation being very 
limited; and the honorific which these dynasts gave themselves 
there, "of the gods" (Aramaic zy Thy), may have been directly 

225 Cf, above, p. 29. 

^ Polybius V.79.6 (cf. above, p. 29). 

2zb ^ ee Stronach, Pasargadae, 155-6. 
i m 9? the distribution of Seleucid and Persid coins in Persis see Frve History 

229 W "' 59 ' Schmitt, Untersuchungen, 46-50. ' 

D. Selwood, "Coins of Persis", CHIr, III.l, 301.— For the coins of the 
successive mmor dynasties of Persis see G. F. Hill, BMC Arabia, Mesopotamia 
and Persia, clx-clxxxii, 195-244 wkh Pis. XXVIII-XXXVII- M Alram 
Nomina, 162-86 with Taf. 18-22 



inspired by the Seleucid cult of deified kings. 2291 

Yet the fact that the legends on these coins were in Aramaic, not 
Greek, was in itself a declaration of allegiance to traditional Persian 
ways; and in general the fratarakas' coins consistently served a 
Persid religio-political propaganda. Unfortunately the Aramaic 
script used on them is often far from clear; and because of ambi- 
guities in individual letters the title which these dynasts bore can be 
read in several different ways, e.g. as prtkr* or prtdr' or prtrk\ 230 Since 
a device on the reverse of several issues declares the rulers con- 
cerned to be Zoroastrians, the first element came to be interpreted 
as *frat "fire", on the basis of Armenian hrat, a presumed Iranian 
loanword in that tongue; 231 and the title was read as either 
*fratakara "maker of fire" or *fratadara "keeper of fire'*. Those who 
favoured the latter interpretation supposed that this was a dynasty 
of priest-kings, principally concerned to maintain a sacred fire at 
Persepolis (where many of their coins are found). 

Against this interpretation it was pointed out that the device in 
question, that of a man worshipping in the presence of fire in a 
raised holder, was a standard one in Zoroastrian iconography, from 
early Achaemenian times onward. It could not therefore be taken 
to imply that any priestly office was held by the person thus shown. 
Moreover, attention was drawn to the occurrence of a rare word, 
prlrk, in Aramaic papyri from Egypt, used there as the title of an 
Achaemenian official, subordinate to the satrap but wielding con- 
siderable powers. 232 This title could readily be analysed as having 
for its initial element Iranian fra- "first", and so could be read as 
fraiarak(a), with an English equivalent of "prefect, governor" or 
the like. Such a title seemed suitable for the Persian dynasts, who 
may well have traced their descent from officials appointed by early 
Macedonian satraps to deal locally with native affairs, and who 
(such is the continuity in many respects between Seleucid and 
former times) may even represent a family which had exercised 

a H. Humbach ("Herrscher, Gott und Gottessohn in Iran und in angrenzden 
Landern" in D. Zeller (ed.), Menschwerdung Gottes — Vergottlichung von Men- 
schen, Freiburg Schweiz/Gottingen 1988, 91-144 at pp. 101-3) suggests rather 
that 'Ihy' [sic], which he reads as elahayya, is pi. majestatis for "god" in the sense of 
"lord, master", and that it refers to thefralaraka's overlord, whom he identifies as 
the reigning Parthian monarch; but this seems difficult to justify, if only on 
chronological grounds, see further below. 

230 See P. Naster, "Note d'epigraphie monetaire de Perside: fratakara, frataraka 
ou fratadara?", Ir. Ant. VIII, 1968, 74-9. 

231 The Armenian word was first, it seems, drawn on for a possible etymology by 
F. Justi (Naster, art. cit., p. 78 n. 7). 

232 The papvrus word was first associated with that on the Persid coins by F. C 
Andreas (Naster, ib., pp. 78, 79, nn. 5, 12, 22). 



authority in some such way already under the Achaemenians. (The 
evolution in the Hellenistic era of such subordinates into quite 
powerful local rulers may have a parallel in the possible develop- 
ment by which a "treasurer", kamniskires, founded a dynasty in 
neighbouring Elymais. 233 ) Since the title frataraka thus seems ap- 
propriate and is actually attested, while those of *fratakara and 
*Jrdtaddra remain speculative and unconfirmed, this reading has 
come to be generally accepted. 

The coins are known of four fratarakas; and because of their 
similarities it is assumed that those who struck them were kinsmen, 
forming a dynasty; but since, except for the standard legend on the 
reverse (prtrk* zy 'I'ty), the name of each stands alone, there is 
nothing to indicate their relationships, 234 and the coins have had to 
be arranged typologically. The earliest are held to be those of 
Bagadat {bgdt), a pious but not specifically Zoroastrian name 
meaning probably "Given by the gods". 235 On their obverse is his 
dignified portrait head, presented with a good technique. 236 He 
wears a short jacket over tunic and trousers — the standard garb of 
his dynasty; and on his head is the satrapal tiara of Achaemenian 
times, bound with the Hellenic diadem of a ruler. The tiara's 

233 Hennrng, "The monuments and inscriptions of Tang-i Sarvak", Asia Minor, 
n.s. [I, 1952, 165; but see further above, p. 41. 

234 On the reverses of the eoins of the brstjrataraka there appear also the isolated 
words bgwrt and br (?). The first, read as *bagwart/bagward, has been explained as 
his father's name; the second, much discussed, appears on the coins of his 
successors also. On it see Selwood, art. cit., p. 302; Alram, o.c, p. 165. 

235 See S. Zimmer, "Iran, baga ein Gottesname?", MSS 43, 1984, 187-215, who 
argued convincingly that in many Iranian proper names the element baga is to be 
understood as "god" in the general sense. The remarks in HZ II 15 are to be 
modified accordingly. Zimmer's analysis does not, however, disprove the case for 
baga having been used in fixed liturgical phrases and cultic associations as the title 
of one particular divinity, i.e. the god known in Indian tradition as Varuna but in 
Iran, it seems, invoked and spoken of only by titles (Ahura berezant, Apam 
Napat, Baga). Zimmer did not extend his inquiry into the Vedic field, which 
provides supporting evidence for this interpretation; and N. Sims-Williams, 
"Mithra the Baga" in a paper read at a conference on Histoire et cultes de I'Asie 
Centrale preislamique, sources ecrites et documents archeologiques, convened by 
P. Bernard and F. Grenet, Paris, 1988 (to be published)^ cited from Achaemenian 
invocations only the one formula: Ahuramazda uta Mithra BagaJ(baga) , passing over 
the fact that when Mithra is invoked alone, or in the triad Ahuramazda Anahif 1 uta 
Mithra, no Baga/baga appears. (On this point see HZ II 139, 283). It would seem a 
strange usage that not only gave Mithra alone the title "god", but gave him il only 
in this one specific formula (which occurs also on Elamite tablets at Persepolis). 
The writer sees no reason therefore to withdraw her interpretation that OP 
Mithra-Baga was an ancient pair-compound, meaning "Mithra- (and) -the Baga", 
parallel to Av. Mithra-Ahura berezant, Vedic Mitravaruna. See further her 
"Mithra Khsathrapati and his brother Ahura", Aspects of Iranian culture, Papers 
b honour of R. N. Frye, BAI 4, 1990 (in press). 

236 Hill, Survey, I, 252; Alram, o.c, p. 162. 



sidepieces are tied across his forehead. 237 The reverses bear two 
different devices. One shows him enthroned, holding a sceptre and 
flower. His pose is clearly modelled on the carving of Darius 
enthroned at Persepolis; but in front of him is planted a tasselled 
banner.™ The other device presents him standing, right hand or 
both hands raised in the gesture of reverence, before a large 
rectangular structure, a little taller than himself, and with the same 
banner set beyond it. 299 The structure has a two-stepped base, is 
panelled, and bears on its flat top three small square objects, each 
surmounted by a pair of outward-curving horns. Taken in isolation 
it could well be interpreted as a building, and it has indeed been 
seen as a fire-temple, 240 or the representation of some edifice at 
Persepolis; 241 but if on the one hand it is considered in the general 
framework of western Iranian Zoroastrian iconography, and on the 
other is compared with parallel devices on later Persid coins, the 
conclusion seems inescapable that it is in fact a massive fire-holder, 
approximating in type to certain pillar-like ones that appear on 
Achaemenian seals. 242 What the three horned objects which sur- 
mount it represent can, however, only be guessed at. 

The same device, with identical fire-holder, appears on reverses 
of the second frataraka^ named Wohubarz (whwbrz), who is invari- 
ably shown standing beside it with both hands raised. On the 
obverse his portrait head, still well engraved, shows him wearing 
the tiara with forward -jutting peak, like the little figure in the Deh-i 
no relief, and that at Kal-i Daud. 243 The side-flaps are brought 
forward across his chin. In the legend on the reverse he calls 
himself prs prtrk\ "frataraka of Pars", which suggests a claim to 
extended power; and there is a piece of literary evidence to suggest 
that this claim was not an empty one. This is a story recorded by 
Polyaenus directly after the one about Seiles and the ambush and 
massacre of 3000 Persians. 244 It tells how Oborzos (generally 

237 Hill, Survey, PI. I26.E; BMC Arabia, PI. XXVI1.7; Selwood. GHIr. IIL1, 
PI. 10.1. 

238 On Iranian banners, including that on the. frataraka coins, see G. Nylander, 
"The standard of the Great King — a problem in the Alexander mosaic", Opus- 
cula Romana (Stockholm), XIV, 1983, 19-37, esp. p. 26 ff. 

239 Hill, Survey, PI. 126.F; BMC Arabia, PI. XXVII. 

240 So Hill, BMC Arabia, p. 195 ff.; K. Erdmann, Das iranische Feuerheiligtum, 
Leipzig 1941, 20-1. In particular, it has been compared in shape with the 
Ka'ba-yi Zardust, seen by some as a fire temple. 

241 Frye, History, 160. 

242 So P. Naster, "Fire-altar or fire-tower on the coins of Persis?", Orientalia 
Lovaniensia Periodica I, 1970, 125-9. For the relevant Achaemenian seals cf. HZ 
II 145. 

243 Hill, BMC Arabia. PL XXVIII. 10; Selwood, I.e., PI. 10.2. 

244 XII A0. 



identified as Wohubarz)., hearing of a conspiracy being formed 
against him by 3000 settlers in Persis, had them taken under strong 
guard to another, populous district. There they were scattered in 
separate lodgings, and at Oborzos' instigation all were made drunk 
and killed by their hosts. "Thus were three thousand murdered in 
one night, and buried, without tumult or confusion". 245 Whatever 
the truth underlying this unheroic tale, as told it suggests both the 
power and influence of Oborzos — power to shift a large body of 
restive Hellenes, influence among his fellow- Persians to procure 
their massacre. The secrecy involved suggests, however, a fear of 
Seleucid reprisals. 24 * 

The story nevertheless evidently gained currency, without this 
preventing the fratarakas from maintaining their position. Two 
more of them struck coins after Wohubarz. The first bore the name 
Artakhsir ('rlhctr), which is ety mo logically identical with Old Per- 
sian Artakhsaca (Artaxerxes to the Greeks), but of a different 
dialect form. The second was called Watfradat (wtfrdl), a name 
familiar to Greeks in Achaemenian times as Autophradates. Both 
these fratarakas wear the tiara with jutting peak, like Wohubarz; 
and like him they are shown standing with both arms raised before 
the pillar-like fire-holder with three horned objects on top. But on 
some of Watfradat's coins he, like the Achaemenian kings in their 
tomb-sculptures, holds a bow in his left hand (the bow being of the 
compound type held by the two nobles in the Qizqapan relief). 247 
On these coins there appears, moreover, also as in the Achaeme- 
nian funerary carvings, the figure in a winged circle, but reduced, 

* 45 Tr. by R. Shepherd, London 1793, repr. Chicago 1974, p. 297. 

This is one consideration which militates against accepting as genuine a 
unique coin which came to light in 1986, said to be from, a large hoard of Persid 
coins found "in the neighbourhood of Kerman". This, finely engraved, bears on 
the obverse the standard portrait head of Wohubarz; but on the reverse is a scene 
of startling action. The dynast is there portrayed wearing the long Achaemenian 
robe, kilted up 10 show one bare leg. With his left hand he grasps the hair of a 
Macedonian soldier, kneeling with his back to him, while with his left foot he 
presses on the soldier's right leg, pinuing him down. In his right hand he holds the 
short sword, the acinaces, being clearly about to slay his foe with it. To one side, in 
Aramaic script, are the letters iny, which could be taken to spell the MP 
derivative of OP *karana- "commander of the army, commander-in-chief; but to 
the other is the legend dnl zy whwbrz, and the word dnt is neither recorded nor 
intelligible, see R. Schmitt apud M. Alram, "Eine neue Drachme des Vahbarz 
(Oborzos) aus der Persis?" Litterae Numismaticae Vindobonenses III, 1987, 
147-55. In this article Alram poiuts out the incongruity of the coin's reverse 
design with the designs of other Jrataraka coins, and the possibility that it has been 
forged on the basis of Polyaenus' story and various known models from antiquity 
(see his PI. 20). 

s+ " Hill, BMC Arabia, PI. XXIX.5, 6, 8, 9; Selwood, art. cit., PI, 10.4; Alram, o.c, 
Taf. 17.533-Taf. 18.542. 



as at Qizqapan, to no more than a bust upon wings. This is set 
facing the frataraka, just above the horns on the fire-holder. On 
another of his issues Watfradat stands by a fire-holder of different 
shape, whose rectangular shaft is crowned by two deep crenella- 
tions. Parallels to this form of fire-holder are again to be found on 
Achaemenian seals. 248 No trace of flames appears between the 
crenellations, but the winged bust is set just above them, the wings 
slightly raised to conform to their shape. Behind Watfradat — a 
strikingly Hellenistic touch on one of these defiantly Iranian 
coins — stands Nike, crowning him. 249 In using this alien image the 

frataraka was adopting a well-known and widely understood motif 
of his day, which had appeared on one of Seleucus' coins found at 
Pasargadae and minted probably at Persepolis. 250 

Watfradat is the last of the four dynasts who used the title 

frataraka, and the coins of the following Persid rulers differ from 
theirs in style and fabric. There is some uncertainty as to the order 
of these rulers. 251 The first was perhaps a Watfradat II (the reading 
of the name is uncertain 252 ), who is presented in a new type of tiara, 
flattish, with the usual neckflaps but no mouth-guard, and sur- 
mounted by an eagle with spread wings. On the reverses of his 
coins there still appears the crenellated fire-holder, with winged 
bust now facing away from the worshipper (who stands as before 
with hands uplifted) and towards the standard, on which there 
perches a large bird. 253 These coins bear a personal name only, 
without title. There followed perhaps a nameless king who set no 
legend at all on his, but continued to use the same devices on their 
reverses. 254 Then there probably came a "king Darius" (d'ryw mik 3 )^ 
under whom the tetradrachm, which had been the standard fratar- 
aka denomination (on the Seleucid model) was replaced by the 
drachma. 255 The anonymous coins, and the change in coin-types, 
have been taken to be the first signs of Parthian influence on Persis, 
exerted probably around 140 B.C. Darius' coins, and the remain- 
der of this second series of Persid coins, will therefore be considered 

348 Cf. HZ II 145 with nn. 93, 94. 

249 Hill Survey, PL 126.G; BMC Arabia. PI. XXIX.7; Selwood, art. cit., PI. 10.5; 
Alram, o.c, Taf. 18.544. 

250 G. K. Jenkins apud Stronach, Pasargadae, 186, 197. 

2ji The order followed here is that proposed tentatively by Alram. o.c., p. 163; slighdy 
differently Selwood, art. cil., pp. 303-^t. 

35 See Alram, "Die Vorbildwirkung der arsakidischen Munzpragung", Lit- 
terae Numismaticae Vindobonensis 3, 1987, 127-8 with n. 29. 

35i Alram, Nomina, Taf. 18.54S-5Q, 

2M " Hill, BMC Arabia, PL XXX.14; Alram, ox., Taf. 18.551-3, 

25 * Alram, o.c, p. 163. 





in the next volume of the present history. — Apart from the early 
coins of this second series, virtually no data exist concerning Persis 
in the Seleucid period after the reign of Antiochus III. 

The dating of the early Persid coins can only be approximate. 
Numismatists are prepared, on the basis of "style, design and 
fabric", to assign those of the fralarakas to the third century B.C.; 256 
and a period roughly between 250 and the end of that century is 
widely accepted, with the possibility that Antiochus III ended the 
Jratarakas' freedom to mint coins when he was at Antiochia-in- 
Persis in 205. During this half-century Antiochus II and Seleucus 
II were much occupied with matters in the west of their domains, 
and with the rise of the Arsacids. 257 The second series is then held 
to have begun fairly early in the first half of the second century, as 
Seleucid control of Iran grew weaker again. For the time of the 
Jratarakas the relationship of Persian dynasts to Macedonian sa- 
traps remains obscure. A statement by Strabo has, however, been 
pertinently cited, to the effect that in his own day "the Persians 
have kings that are subject to other kings, formerly to the kings of 
Macedonia, but now to those of the Parthians". 258 Most probably 
the Jratarakas were nominally vassals of the Seleucids and subordi- 
nate to their satraps, but in fact virtually petty kings. In such 
circumstances they were presumably able, like the independent 
Atropatids, to exert within their territory an unrestricted patronage 
of the Zoroastrian religion. 


Since 1923 intermittent excavations have taken place on the site 
of the town of Persepolis, which was looted and burnt by Alexan- 
der's soldiers; and on the jambs of the doorway of a large house, 
dated to the post-Achaemenian period of reconstruction, two carv- 

256 Selwood, art. cit., p. 302. 

257 Cf. above, pp. 27, 28. Otherwise on the fiatarakas' date R. Stiehl in F. 
Altheim, Geschichte der Hunnen I, Berlin 1959, 376-9, who sought to avoid the 
problem of divided authority in Persis by dating all four jratarakas to the 2nd 
century, when Seleucid power was rapidly waning in Iran; but it is generally held 
that this allows too Kttle time to them and their successors before the rise of 
Parthia. J. Wiesehofer, in an unpublished paper cited by M. Alram, art. cit. in n. 
246, p. 153 n. 23, argues for the "Nike" coin of Watfradat marking the final 
achievement of full independence by the dynasty, an event which he places 
between 187 and 164 B.C. — Herzfeld, AHI, 46, dated the beginnings of the 
dynasty back to before 300 B.C. For details about other chronological speculations 
see Naster, art. cit., in n. 230, p. 77 n. 1. 

2M XV.3.24 (cited in connection with the Fratarakas by Schmitt, Untersu- 
chungen, 46; Frye, History, 161). 

ings were found, one on each side. 259 These were only lightly 
incised in a technique used also for the Mithradates relief at 
Behistun. On one jamb is represented a man wearing a long robe 
and tiara with forward-jutting peak, resembling thus in his attire 
the fieure at Kal-i Daud. Like him he holds the long baresmm, but 
in his right hand, his left being raised in the attitude of reverence. 
The carving opposite him is of a woman, the only known represen- 
tation of one in pre-Sasanian Iranian sculpture. Her hands are 
empty, and both arc reverently raised. 

The natural desire to make a coherent pattern from scattered 
data led the discoverer of these reliefs to see this pair as one of the 
fratarakas of Persis and his consort; 260 but the technical comparison 
which he himself drew with the Mithradates relief suggests a date 
around the mid second century, well after the Jmlaraka corns must 
have ceased; and there is in fact nothing to identify the figures, who 
perhaps simply represent the master and mistress of the house, 
immortalized by some travelling craftsman. 

Close by but opening on to a different street, another large 
building was excavated, made up of a network of chambers and 
passageways. At one end there was a square room, in which were 
found the bases of four central pillars, with against the back wall a 
stepped stone pedestal. Separated from this by a long narrow room 
was a pillared hall. These two structures had the appearance ot a 
temple sanctuary with associated hall for religious gatherings, and 
they were identified as such by their excavator. 2 " He linked them 
not only with the figures in the door-jambs but also with the slabs 
bearing the names of Greek gods, and assumed that the building 
was accordingly to be assigned to the late fourth century B.C. He 
therefore dated the fratarakas (whom he saw as Jratadaras) to very 
early in Seleucid times, maintaining that the "national party had 
come to power in Persepolis before 300 B.C.; and held that it was 
thev who had built this temple, in which, as priest-kings they 
ministered to their sacred fire. He named it accordingly the 
"Fratadara Temple". ., ., . 

The building has, however, no apparent connection with either the 
carvings or the inscribed stones; and its date— whether Achaememan 

aM Herzfeld AHI 46-7. He says there that the carvings were in the window- 
iambs of the "Fratadara Temple"; but later excavations established that they 
we"e in the door-jambs of a ndghbouriiig ^^/"H^^ff™^^ 
(showing both buildings as one complex) see E. Schmidt, Persepolis I Chicago 
1953 56- Schippmann, Feuerheiligdimer, 179. For the reliefs see Schmidt, o.c. 

^'Herzfeld, I.e. 

261 Herzfeld, o.c, p. 54. 





or post-Achaemenian — has since been much debated. 262 The only 
evidence is that provided by architectural forms. Further excavation 
of the presumed temple-hall has yielded not only a large block of 
stone, possibly the socle of a statue, but also column-bases which 
are undoubtedly of late Achaemenian date. 263 The uncertainty 
continues, however, since these could have been taken from ruined 
buildings and re-used in Hellenistic times. As for the purpose of the 
temple, this too is not known : it could have had either a sacred fire 
or a. yazata as its main cult object. It has even been suggested that it 
may not have been a temple at all, but rather a large private 
building of late or post Achaemenian date, like others now known 
in the vicinity. 2M 

Istakhr and Naqs-i Rustam 

Less than 5 km. from Persepolis, by the road to Pasargadae, 
stood Stakhra or Istakhr, the "Stronghold". Certain words in 
Aramaic letters on the fratarakas' coins have been interpreted as 
showing that this was their mint city; but nothing has yet been 
uncovered there that goes back to their epoch, or that has any 
Zoroastrian connotations. (The remains of a large building have 
been excavated from early Muslim times, in which stone pillars of 
an older date were reused. These were at first assigned to the 
Hellenistic period; 265 but they have since been re-assessed, and 
most have been dated to the beginning of the Sasanian era, i.e. to 
the second half of the third or to the fourth century A.C. 266 ) 

Off the road between Persepolis and Istakhr is Naqs-i Rustam, 
the cliff-face where the early kings of Darius' line had their tombs; 
and here in 1923, carved at the entrance to the tomb of Darius 
himself, were noticed the barely visible remains of an Aramaic 
inscription. Even then this was "far too much damaged to be read 
coherently or to be restored" 267 , and it has since deteriorated 
further. From three words which were made out, i.e. hsyty wzrk 

261 For a bibliographical survev down to 1971 see Schippmann, o.c, pp. 
1 77-50. 

363 See A. B. Tilia, Studies and restorations at Persepolis and other sites of Fars 
II, 1SMEO, Rome 1978, 87, and as cited in HZ II 226 (where other statements 
about the temple and 5 altar-slabs are to be revised as above). 

26 * So R. Boucharlat, "Monuments religieux de la Per&e achemenide . . ,", in 
Temples et sanctuaires, Seminaire de recherche 1981-83, directed by G. Roux, 
Travaux de la Maisoti de 1' Orient 7, 1984, 131-2. 

265 Herzfeld, o.c, pp. +8-50. 

266 See P. Bernard, "Trois notes d'archeologie iranienne", JA 197+, 284-8. 

267 Herzfeld, o.c, p. 48. 

"great king" and m'ky "in the month", it was deduced that the 
whole was written in Old or Middle Persian in Aramaic script; and 
a line drawing was published showing what else it seemed possible 
to see 25fi By the forms of the letters the inscription was dated to the 
fourth or early third century B.C. 269 ; and a date in the late fourth 
century seemed to fit with the subsequent decipherment of the 
word slwk, interpreted as a rendering of "Seleucus" 270 — referring 
presumably to Seleucus I. Yet problems were seen in supposing 
that the inscription belonged to his time. Its careful alignment and 
carving suggest that it was done deliberately and openly, at the 
order of someone in authority; but those in authority then were 
Hellenes, who would hardly have used either Persian language or 
Aramaic' script. These considerations led one scholar to question 
the reading, or interpretation of, slwk, and to attribute the inscrip- 
tion to the end of the Achaemenian period, seeing it as ordered 
perhaps bv Artaxerxes II or III "in the same spirit as the earlier 
cuneiform 'inscriptions which proclaimed the glory and the heritage 
of the Achaemenian house". 271 

Yet this explanation brings difficulties of its own. No Achaeme- 
nian after Darius set an inscription at his own tomb. Why then 
should it have occurred to any of them to add a fresh one to those at 
his ancestor's? And why, doing so, should he have had this written 
in Persian not Aramaic, thus breaking with the by then established 
scribal tradition of the epoch? It seems more reasonable to see both 
inscription and its language as innovations made in response to the 
shocks and changes brought about by the Macedonian conquest. 
At that time the Persian nobles could see Greek inscriptions being 
set up not only in Greek cities but even at Persepolis; and this 
might have prompted some of them to have this one inscribed at 
Darius' tomb. The well-shaped Aramaic letters presumably repre- 
sent Achaemenian chancellery usage; 272 and to scribes trained in 
this, applying Aramaic script to Persian words would not have been 
undulv difficult, since they were used to writing Persian proper 
names and special terms with Aramaic characters. As for the 
question of authority, the Persian nobles clearly did not lose all 

268 Herzfeld, Altpersische Inschriflen, Berlin 1938, 12 with PI. IV. 

** F. Rosenthal, Die aramaistische Forschung seit Noldeke, London 1939, to. 

2,0 Henning, "Mitteliranisch", 24. . „ . ( YV1I 

371 Frye, "The 'Aramaic' inscription on the tomb of Darius , lr. Ant. avii, 
1982, 85-90, with new photographs of the inscription, Pis. I-IX. 

573 One of the reasons which Frye gives (art. cit., p. 90) for assigning the 
inscription to Achaemenian times is that its lettering is much superior to that oi 
the/rateraAtf coins; but over 50 troubled years may well have intervened between 
the two. 





position and dignity through the conquest; and it is unlikely that 
the Macedonian satrap, had he been aware of it, would have felt it 
necessary to forbid them to place an inscription in a (to him) 
incomprehensible script in an inaccessible place, where few if any 
would see or be able to read it. — Yet unless more of this inscription 
can one day be deciphered, almost all that can be said about it 
remains necessarily surmise. 373 

If this text was indeed entirely in Persian, written phonetically in 
Aramaic script, it is as far as is known unique; and it had, it seems, 
no influence on general Iranian scribal usage, and the slow process 
by which more and more Iranian words came to be introduced into 
Aramaic texts, so that gradually during the Parthian period the 
various Middle Iranian scripts evolved. 274 This was the fruit of\ong y 
natural, widespread growth, not of one particular local achievement. 

Rock tombs 

Persis has one rock-cut tomb which has features in common with 
those of the Median group, and others which link it even more 
closely than them with the Achaemenian royal tombs— which is 
hardly surprising, since the latter were relatively close at hand, to 
provide direct models. 275 This tomb, known as Da-u-Dukhtar 
("Nurse and girl") is in the neighbourhood of Fehlian, some 3 km. 
off the highway that once Jed from Susa to Persepolis. 276 It is 
nevertheless well beyond the area which it would seem reasonable 
to think of as the fratarakas' country. It is very high up in a 

273 In a series of publications (listed by Frye, art. cit., p. 86 n. 4) F. Altheim 
proposed a number of additional readings on the basis of Herzfeld's line-drawing; 
but these have been challenged by Henning (see CHIr. Ill 2, 786 n. 1} and by 
Frye (art. cit., pp. 86-9), both of whom had examined the inscription; and also, 
on linguistic grounds, by R. Schmitt, "Zu einer neuen Geschichte Mittelasiens im 
Altertum", WZKM 67, 1975, 82-3. 

27 * See notably Henning, "Mitteliranisch". 

75 The unfinished monument at Qadamgah in the Kuh-i Rahmat {see Vanden 
Berghe, Arch., PI. 63) presents too many problems for it to be firmly associated 
with either "Median"' or Achaemenian tombs. It has been assigned by most 
scholars to the Achaemenian period, and seen variously as intended for an 
open-air place of Zoroastrian worship, a rock-cut tomb, an ossuary, or a place of 
exposure. Latterly it has been tentatively interpreted as a tomb begun just after 
the downfall of the Achaemenians by some Persian prince or noble, see R. 
Boucharlat, "Le monument rupestre de Qadamgah (Fars): essai d'in- 
terpretation", Ir. Ant. XIV, 1979, 153-66 with Pis. I— II, q.v. for a bibliography 
of the site. 

a7e Herzfeld, AHI, 32 with PI. Va; Iran in the Ancient East, 206 ff. with Abb. 
317, Taf. 35-38; Stein, Old Routes, 45 ff. with photograph; Vanden Berghe, 
Arch., 58 with PI. 86b; von Gall, AA 1966, 27-£ with Abb. 22; Stronach, 
Pasargadae, 304 with Pis 191-3. 

precipitous cliff in a narrow fertile valley. Below it the rock is 
smoothed away sheer, but the cliff can be climbed with difficulty up 
to that point. Its facade is only shallowly recessed, and the rela- 
tively large entrance to the tomb chamber is set between engaged 
pillars, as at the Achaemenian tombs, two on each side. These 
pillars have as usual Iranian-type bases (here a narrow torus upon 
two square plinths), but Hellenistic capitals, of debased Ionic type. 
Above them the rock is carved to look like a wooden roof; and over 
this is a rectangular panel of smoothed rock, surrounded by a 
neatly cut frame and surmounted by a row of seven stepped 
battlements, such as were to be seen at Persepolis. Behind this 
elaborate exterior is a large rectangular chamber occupying the 
whole width of the facade and quite empty. Above it a smaller 
chamber was later hollowed out, with a separate entrance to the left 
of the facade. The date of the original tomb has been debated; but 
there are indications (the framed panel, pillars with Ionic instead of 
Achaemenian bull capitals) which suggest the Hellenistic period. 
Bull capitals are found on the facade of a much more modest 
Persid tomb, one of a group of five known as Akhur-i Rustam, 
"Rustam's stable". 277 These small, empty, tombs are set together 
irregularly low down in a cliff-face, some 8 km. to the south of 
Persepolis. Four have simple rectangular entrances, slightly re- 
cessed within a smoothed area; but the fifth has in shallow relief on 
each side of the entrance a little pillar with bull capital, set not 
directly on the shaft but on an Ionic kymation, and supporting 
carved rafters. It seems likely that this humble adaptation of an 
Achaemenian tomb facade was made in Hellenistic times and is to 
be seen as a piece of pious traditionalism, like the copying on his 
coins of Darius' pose by the frataraka Bagadat. 

The transmission of the Avesta 

All surviving manuscripts of the Avesta go back to an original 
text set down by a Persian priest or priests in the later Sasanian 
period. The alphabet evolved for this purpose was phonetically 
exact; 278 and a minute examination of the sounds of the Avestan 
language thus recorded has yielded evidence for some slight 

277 Herzfeld, AHI, 37-8 with PI. Vb.; Vanden Berghe, o.c, p. 45 with PI. 61 b-d; 
von Gall, art. cit., pp. 23, 38. 

278 Henning, "Mitteliranisch", 58; G. Morgenstieme, "Orthography and 
sound-system of the Avesta", Norsk Tidsskrift for Sprogvidenskap 12, 1942, 
30-82; K. Hoffmann und J. Narten, Der Sasanidische Archetypus, Wiesbaden 
19&9, 23-33. 





influence by spoken Old Persian. 279 This means that Avestan had 
been recited in Persis under the Achaemenians, and continued to 
be recited thereafter throughout the Seleucid and Parthian periods. 
There is nothing surprising in this, for it is reasonable to suppose 
that, wherever there were Zoroastrians, at least a basic minimum of 
devotional texts, both for private use and for priestly offices, was 
known by heart and regularly recited. But this natural assumption 
is difficult to verify for an oraJ body of literature, and positive proof 
for it is very welcome. Otherwise the only evidence in Greco- 
Roman times for the recital of Avestan (assuming this to be 
Pausanias' liturgical language "quite unintelligible to a Greek" 280 ) 
comes from the great Lydian temples of Hypaipa and Hierocae- 
sarea. The data considered above 281 concerning the shrine legends 
of Adur Gusnasp in Atropatene also attest, however, a knowledge 
of Avestan yasts. 

In the recorded pronunciation of Avestan there have also been 
identified two words whose phonetics are neither normal Avestan 
nor Persian in character: karax v aiii- (Vd. 1.12) and n»max v ai(z- 
(Y.33.7). Since the former is the Old Iranian name for Arachosia, it 
has been suggested that both words represent south-eastern Ira- 
nian dialect forms; 282 and on this basis a number of other forms 
representing some unknown dialect has likewise been attributed to 
the speech of Arachosia-Drangiana. 283 

From this a far-reaching theory has been evolved. It is supposed 
that these south-eastern Iranian elements were absorbed into the 
Persian pronunciation of Avestan at the time of the Achaemenians. 
Darius the Great, it is suggested, invited Arachosian priests to his 
court to counterbalance the power of the Median magi, giving them 
position and honour there side by side with the western priests; and 
these aetkrapaii- brought with them "the Avesta corpus", thus 
transplanting it to Persis from their native land. 284 Thereafter 
Persis, and specifically Stakhr, became the "centre for the oral 
Avesta-tradition" and indeed the only place where this was culti- 
vated. The term "transplanted" {verpfianzt) implies the hypothesis 
that the Arachosians, having sent priests learned in Avesta to 
Persia, thereby lost their own knowledge of it, and ceased them- 
selves to transmit or study the holy texts. This, in the light of 

Hoffmann-Narten, o.c, pp. 41 f., 67 f. 

280 See below, p. 236. 

281 P. 73. 

292 Hoffmann-Narten, o.c, p. 79. 

283 lb., pp. 79-84. 

zw lb., pp. 80-1, 86-7. 

Arachosia-Drangiana's long and proud Zoroastrian tradition, is 
quite untenable. Indeed, it flies in the face of ordinary 
commonsense. 285 

The theory founders moreover on well-known facts. The Greeks, 
who were familiar with the ways of the Achaemenian court, knew 
the magi well, but only the magi, as the priests there of Zoroaster. 
Further, the priests of Sasanian Persia, who would clearly have 
been happy to assert that they inherited a unique Avesta-tradition, 
themselves made no such claim. Instead, they recognized that no 
canonical corpus of Avestan texts existed before their own period. 
Previously, they recorded 286 , an Arsacid Valakhs had taken an 
important step by ordering the Zoroastrian communities of the 
Parthian empire "to preserve, in the state in which they had come 
down in (each) province, whatever had survived in purity of the 
Avesta and Zand". It was this, it seems, which subsequently 
inspired the Persian priest Tansar to prompt Ardasir I to have "'all 
those scattered teachings" brought to the Sasanian court. Presum- 
ably, that is, the king summoned representatives of all who knew 
such texts by heart to come in person and recite them before 
Tansar. That priest then "assumed command, and selected those 
which were trustworthy, and left the rest out of the canon". This 
must mean that thereafter the chosen texts were all taught and 
memorized in at least one Persian priestly college, being thus 
transmitted orally in Persis for several generations before they were 
finally written down there. (Even then this does not of course imply 
that their oral transmission thenceforth ceased in other parts of the 
Zoroastrian community.) Among those who "brought" Avestan 
texts to Persis in this way are likely to have been priests from 
Drangiana/Seistan, an area which boasted (though evidently with 
gross exaggeration) that only there had such texts been remem- 
bered after Alexander's conquest. 287 Among the works which they 
contributed was evidently their version of Yost 19, or at least those 
verses of it which have a clear connection with their land. 288 It is 
very likely that some of these eastern Iranian priests remained in 
Persis, honoured and well-rewarded as teachers because of their 

235 K. Hoffmann's theory is nevertheless adopted uncritically by Kellens in J. 
Kellens et E. Pirart, Lis UxUs vitil-awstiques, 1, Wiesbaden 1988, 39-40, 

386 Denkard IV, ed. Madan, p. 412.5-14; tr. M. Shaki, "The Denkard account 
of the history of the Zoroastrian scriptures", Archfv Orientalnf 49, 1981, 114-25; 
reproduced in Sources, p. 1 14 ( 

287 See above, p. 16. 

286 See HZ I 274; and in detail, with references to his own earlier studies, G. 
Gnoli, ZTH 87-8, 129 ff. 



knowledge of old traditions, and that it was through them that 
certain eastern Iranian pronunciations came to affect the Persian 
recital of Avestan. The supposition that such influence was exerted 
at this period, rather than earlier, is strengthened by the existence 
in Pahlavi of a group of religious terms which do not belong 
dialectally to Middle Persian, and which co-exist with genuine 
Middle Persian forms. These terms, identified as specifically "Zor- 
oastrian Pahlavi", have long been likewise attributed to the other- 
wise unknown dialect of Seistan. 289 

In a Sogdian manuscript of the Sasanian period there is a 
phonetic transcription of the asem voku, made most probably by a 
Manichaean scribe from Zoroastrian oral recitation. 290 This con- 
tains peculiarities of diction which have been defined as belonging 
to Old Sogdian, that is, to a stage of this language not later than 
Old Persian, and hence hardly later than the Achaemenian period. 
Middle Sogdian phonetic characteristics also appear, testifying to a 
long purely oral tradition. This brief text thus provides a valuable 
scrap of direct evidence for the existence of channels of Avestan 
transmission other than either the Persian or Arachosian. 


Even apart from the evidence for a continual tradition of Avestan 
recitation, the meagre data from Persis during Seleucid times show 
no breach there in religion or culture, although small indications 
(the striking of coins, use of the figure Nike to declare victorious- 
ness, nominal divinization of rulers through their claim to be "of 
the gods") show that even the fratarakas became hellenized to some 
degree. Their coin devices present these dynasts as devout Zoroast- 
rians; and a similar piety is attested for other Persian nobles of this 
time by the carved figures of the Persepolis door-jambs, and the 
rock-cut tombs which enabled purity laws to be kept. This evidence 
for continuity in religious beliefs and observances is no stronger 
however, than that to be found in Greater Media and Atropatene. 
Persis was unique in her political rather than her religious heritage, 
which she shared with the whole Zoroastrian community. 

339 See Henning, Mitteliranisch, 99-100. 

290 I. Gershevitch, appendix to N. Sims- Williams, "The Sogdian manuscripts in 
the British Museum", 11J 18, 1976, 75-82. (A facsimile of the ms. fragmeut is 
reproduced by N. Sims- Williams el J. Hamilton, Documents turco-sogdiens du 
IX e -X' siecle de Touen-houang, Corpus Ins. Iranicamm, Pt. II. Vol. Ill, 
London 1990, PI. 22, fragment 4 = BM Or. S2I2 (83).) 





From Iranian settlement to Mauryan suzerainty 

Of the eastern Iranian lands other than Bactria, only Arachosia 
and Gandhara have yielded some direct contemporary evidence 
concerning their Zoroastrian communities during the Seleucid 
period. Arachosia, known to the ancient Iranians who lived there 
as Harahvaiti, 1 was centred on the upland plain watered by the 
Argandab, in the south of modern Afghanistan. The first Iranian 
settlers there (who arrived perhaps from around 1000 B.C.) evi- 
dently named the Argandab itself Harahvaiti after the chief river of 
their mythology, believed to pour down from the great world- 
mountain and to be the source of all other earthly waters. 2 The 
actual Harahvaiti/Argandab rises in the high mountains of East- 
Central Afghanistan, and flows in a south-westerly direction to join 
the Helmand. That river then carries their confluent waters on to 
empty eventually into the Hamun lake in Seistan, the ancient 
Kasaoya, early sanctified for Zoroastrians as the place where the 
Saosyant will one day be conceived. 3 

The name Harahvaiti was then evidently given by extension to a 
region watered by the river, probably more or less that known to 
the early Muslim geographers (by a deformation of the ancient 
name) as the plain of Rukhwad (or more commonly Rukhkhad or 
Rukhkhaj) .* This area was dominated by a stronghold, presumably 
originally called by the Iranians the fort of Harahvaiti, then also 

1 For other forms of this name see R. Schmitt, "Arachosia", Elr. II 246-8. 

2 Cf. Skt. Sarasvati, the name given by early Indo-Aryan settlers lo a river 
which watered an area important in their own early colonization; see further HZ I 

3 Cf. HZ I 274,293; II 279. 

4 See Le Strange, Eastern Caliphate, 339, 346. The name Rukhkhad was also 
given still to a river, a tributary of the Argandab, which has been identified as that 
named in Yt. 19.66 as the Zarrtumaiti, see D. Monchi-Zadeh, Topographisch- 
historische Studien zum iranischen Nationalepos. Abh. f. d. Kunde d. Morgenian- 
des, XLI 2, Wiesbaden 1975, 120, 123, 126; W. Vogelsang, "Early historical 





simply Harahvaiti; so that they ended by giving this one name to 
river, region and citadel. The stronghold has been identified as the 
''Old Town", some 3 km. to the west of modern Kandahar, which 
was destroyed by Nadir Shah in 1738. This was sheltered by the 
steep QaituI ridge, on whose further side the Argandab flows. 5 The 
site, excavation has shown, had been occupied before the Iranians 
appeared; but the fertile, well-watered plain around seems to have 
attracted them to settle there in numbers, presumably in time 
pushing most of the indigenous peoples up into the surrounding 
hills; 6 and with this settlement Harahvaiti became part of a wide 
area in Eastern Iran and Afghanistan where Zoroastrianism early 
took root, and flourished well and long. 7 

The stronghold of Harahvaiti (Arachotoi to the Greeks) was well 
placed not only to dominate the surrounding region but also to 
control the ancient highways that passed through it, linking Iran 
with the Indian sub-continent 8 and joining together lands of early 
Iranian settlement. One of these highways led from Seistan up the 
Helmand and Argandab valleys, and branched at Kandahar, one 
way continuing east through the Sulaiman range to the lower 
Punjab, the other south-east to Hind (Sind). A third ran on up the 
higher reaches of the Argandab valley, and over a pass into that of 
the Kabul river. The Kabul valley too was part of an area where 
Iranians had settled early, calling it (in Old Persian rendering) 
Paruparaesana after its huge mountain range, the Hindukush, to 
the eastern Iranians the Upairisaena (Paropamisadai, Paropami- 
sos respectively to the Greeks). The route through Paropamisadai 

Arachosia in south-east Afghanistan", lr. Ant. XX, 1985, 62 n. 19, 90. It survives 
also in the name of a small village, Arukh, c. 55 km. north-east of Kandahar, see 
C. E. Bosworth, "Kandahar", El 4 (1978). 536" W. Ball, "The Seven Qandahars, 
The name Q.ND.HAR in the Islamic Sources", SAS 4, 1988, 134, 

On the identification of the town Harahvati with "Old Kandahar" (Qanda- 
har in Persian spelling), see with full documentation P. Bernard, "Tin probleme de 
toponymie antique dans 1'Asie Centrale: lea noms ancicnsde Qandahar" St lr 3 
1974, 171-85; Ball, art. cit., pp. 131, 132-6. 

On the fertility of the area, from medieval to modern times, see Le Strange, 
I.e.; Bosworth, art. cit., p. 537. 

See the admirable researches of G. Gnoli (bibliography down to 1985 given in 
his own ZTH, p. xviii, with his De Zoroastre a Mani to be added). The present 
writer remains, however, one of those not persuaded that the evidence for the early 
date of Zoroastrianism in these regions amounts to proof that the prophet himself 
promulgated his religion somewhere there. For conflicting views on this matter see 
latterly Gnoli, "Avestan geography" and Boyce, "Avestan people", Elr. II, 44-7. 
63-6, and further o,c. in n. 134, below. 

K. Fischer, "Zur Lage von Kandahar an Landverbindungen zwischen Iran 
und Indien", Bonner Jahrbucher 167, 1967, 129-232; Ball, art. cit., p. 138. For a 
bibliography of the excavations at Old Kandahar, 1946-1978, see Ball, Archaeo- 
logical Gazetteer of Afghanistan, I, Paris 1982, 145-7. 

was one of those linking Arachosia with Bactria. Another, longer, 
one passed round the western skirts of the high Afghan mountains 
through Herat (ancient Haraiva). Already in the Stone Age 
(fourth-second millennia B.C.) inhabitants of the Arachosian re- 
gion had traded with north-west India, eastern Iran and the 
Central Asian steppes; and such trade seems to have continued 
after the Iranian immigrations. 9 Zoroastrian communities in these 
eastern Iranian lands would thus have had no great difficulty in 
maintaining contact with each other from the early days of settle- 

For the Achaemenians, who brought all these lands under their 
rule, Arachosia provided an important corridor of communication 
with their Indian satrapy of Gandhara (Avestan Vaekereta). The 
heartland of this region appears to have been the fertile plain of 
Peshawar; and under the Achaemenians its capital was 
Puskalavati, Pekelaotis to the Hellenes. This was by modern Char- 
sada, some 50 km. to the north-east of Peshawar, on the ancient 
trade-route leading from Bactria down the Kabul valley to the 
Indus plain. 10 Achaemenian Gandhara included lands beyond the 
Indus, with another important city, namely Taxila, set further to 
the east on the same great trading highway, where many Persians 
came to settle. 

For the Achaemenians Arachosia was also the gateway to their 
other Indian satrapy of Hind. It was accordingly, it seems, the seat 
of an important satrap, who probably governed also Drangiana 
(Seistan) and perhaps Sattagydia. 11 One of his palaces was pre- 
sumably at Harahvaiti /Old Kandahar, where Achaemenian re- 
mains have been found; and the citadel there, and the town's 
defences, were probably both much enlarged at this time. 12 

When Alexander invaded Iran, the satrap of Drangiana- 

The existence of this ancient trade has been established by excavations at 
Mundigak and Deh Murasi Ghundai, for which see Ball, o.c, under these names. 
Achaemenian remains at Mundigak may indicate a Persian administrative centre 
there, see Ball, SAS 4, 135. The settlement of Pirak, some 250 km. to the 
south-east of Kandahar near the head of the Bolan Pass, imported lapis lazuli 
from the Bactrian mines of Badakhshan, presumably across Arachosia, through- 
out the period of its existence, estimated to be c. 1750-800 B.C.; seej. F. Jarrige 
and M. Santoni, Fouilles de Pirak, Fouilles du Pakistan 2, 2 vols, Paris 1979; 
Vogelsang, art. cit. in n. 4, p. 75. 

l ° M. Wheeler, Charsada. a metropolis of the North-West Frontier, London 
1962, 1 ff. 

11 See Vogelsang, art. cit., p. 77 ff., for a detailed discussion. 

17 D. Whitehouse, ''Excavations at Kandahar, 1974", Afghan Studies 1, 1978, 
9-39; S. W. Helms, "Excavations at 'The City and the Famous Fortress of 
Kandahar . . ' " ib., 3, 1982, 1-24. 



Arachosia was Barsaentes, one of the nobles who accompanied 
Darius on his flight from Ecbatana, and had a part in killing the 
king.' 3 He then withdrew to Drangiana, and when Alexander 
appeared there, sought refuge with "the Indians on this side of the 
river Indus"; but they eventually delivered him to the Macedonian, 
who had him put to death. H From Drangiana Alexander marched 
up the valleys of the Helmand and Argandab, subdued Harahvaiti, 
and set a Macedonian governor over it, with whom he stationed a 
garrison of some 4600 men. 15 He also refounded the town of 
Harahvaiti as a polls, which came to be known as Alexandria-in- 
Arachosia, or, as reported in Parthian times by Isidore of Gharax, 
Alexandropolis. 16 In Isidore's day it was still a flourishing city ; 
'The metropolis of Arachosia", of which he said "it is Greek" (esti de 
Hellenis). Part of a Greek dedicatory epigram, carved on an alabas- 
ter statue-base, was discovered in the ruins of Old Kandahar, The 
inscription has been dated to between 300-275/50 B.C., and the 
statue-group concerned stood presumably in the sacred precinct of 
the Greek city; 17 but few other indications of its life have survived. 
From Arachosia, left thus dominated by the conquering Hel- 
lenes, Alexander marched north up the Argandab valley to Paropa- 
misadai, founding there another Alexandria (at Begram), and 
thence to Bactria; returning south-eastwards in due course to take 
Gandhara. There were evidently numbers of Iranians living there, 
the descendants presumably both of ancient settlers and of colo- 
nists of Achaemenian times; and now Hellenes in their turn settled 
among them and the indigenous Gandharans, establishing evi- 
dently their rule and way of life firmly there also. These Indo- 
Iranian borderlands were, however, very remote, in those days of 
slow travel, from the centres of Macedonian power; and sometime 
after 316 they were brought under his suzerainty by Chandra- 
gupta, founder of the expanding Mauryan empire. 18 He, it seems, 
was content with overlordship, and allowed them to function more 
or less as vassal-states, still under Macedonian governors. When 
therefore Seleucus, as conqueror of Iran, came to treat with Ghan- 
dragupta in 303 19 , it was in recognition of an existing state of affairs 

13 Arrian, III.21.1; Curtius, 

14 Arrian, III.25.8; cf. Curtius, I.e. 

15 Arrian. IH.28.1; Curtius, VII. 3.4-5. 

16 Parthian Stations, 19. Most recently, on the identification of Harahvaiti with 
AJexandria-in- Arachosia and Old Kandahar see Ball, SAS 4, 132-4. 

17 P. M. Fraser, "The son of Aristonax at Kandahar", Afghan Studies 2, 1979, 

,B Cf above, p. 22. 
19 Ibid. 



that he formally ceded these regions to him; 20 and matters being 
thus amicably arranged, he appears to have gained acceptance of a 
clause in their treaty making provision for the continuance, in a 
measure at least, of Greek law and custom in these regions,* 1 This 
concession was probably not difficult to obtain; for the general 
structure of the Mauryan empire was that of a central power 
uniting under its rule a number of smaller states, "to which it left a 
greater or less degree of autonomy according to place and 
circumstances". 22 Exactly where the Mauryan border ran is uncer- 
tain; but it seems clear from coin finds that the whole satrapy of 
Paropamisadai was now under Indian rule, and that Arachosia 
proper was entirely ceded, as far west as the confluence of the 
Argandab and Helmand. 23 

The Iranian Kambojas 

Of the Iranians in these regions, living now under Macedonian 
government but Indian suzerainty, nothing is recorded during the 
reigns of Ghandragupta and his successor, Bindusara. Collectively 
they had evidently been known to the Indians, from at least 
Achaemenian times, as "Kambojas". 24 No such name appears in 
any Iranian source; but the Indian materials, though meagre, 
suffice to identify the peoples so called as indeed Iranians, and 
Zoroastrians by faith. The earliest piece of evidence is a reference 
by the grammarian Yaska (who lived before the fourth century 
B.C.) to the Kambojas' use of the verb sav for to "go", which 
establishes that they spoke an Iranian tongue. 25 In the Mahabha- 
rata and in Pali literature they appear repeatedly in the character- 
istic Iranian roles of horsemen and breeders of notable horses; 26 

20 See the masterly study by P. Bernard, Fouilles d'Ai" Khanoum IV, 85-95. 
The date of this event has been much debated, see Bernard's bibliography, p. 85 
nn. 3, 4, which shows classicists and orientalists broadly opposed; but he himself 
was the first to draw on the full range of evidence now available, textual, 
archaeological, epigraphic and numismatic. On the organization of the Mauryan 
empire see G. Fussman, "Pouvoir central et regions dans l'Inde ancienne: le 
probleme de 1'empire maurya", Annates, ESC, 37, 1982, 621^7; G. M. 
Bongard-Levin. Indija epoxi Maur'ev, Moscow 1973, with English summary. 

21 See Bernard, ox., pp. 92-3 (on the epigamia clause). 

22 Fussman, art. cit., p. 641. 

23 I.e. the western Mauryan frontier was probably more or less along the line 
drawn by Foucher, La vieille route, I p. 197, fig. 35, see Bernard, ox., pp. 90-1. 

2+ On the Kambojas see, succinctly, E. Benveniste, JA 1958, 46-8. 

25 E. Kuhn, "Das Volk der Kamboja bei Yaska", Avesta, Pahlavi and Ancient 
Persian Studies in honour of P. B. Sanjana, Strassbourg 1904, 2I3-14;J_ Wacker- 
nagel, "Indoiranica", KZ 60, 1933, 198-9. 

26 See J. Charpentier, "Der Name Kambyses (Ka bujiya)". Zeitschnft fur 
Indologie und Iranistik, 2, 1923, 146; Kuhn, art. cit., p. 214. 



and in a passage in a Buddhist jataka it is remarked that, unlike 
Indians, the Kambojas held it a religious duty to kill insects, 
snakes, worms and frogs. 27 This alone suffices to show that they 
were Zoroastrians, acting in accord with precepts formulated in 
Vd. XIV. 5— 6. Those precepts have their basis in Zoroastrian 
dualism, which assigns such creatures, and others either noxious or 
repellent to man, to the Evil Spirit, terming them generally 
khrafstra. Their destruction was accordingly enjoined on believers; 
and its diligent pursuit has been noted by outside observers from 
the fifth century B.C. down to modern times. 28 

Together with this last piece of evidence there has to be consid- 
ered the statement in the Vendidad (1.12) that Harahvaiti was 
afflicted by the Evil Spirit with the sin of nasu-spaya, literally 
"casting out corpses". 29 In the Pahlavi translation this is rendered 
as nasa-nigdntk "burial of corpses", a transgression that preoccupied 
the Sasanian authorities, who contended periodically over this 
practice with their non-Zoroastrian subjects. The sin o^ nasu-spaya is 
less easily defined; for placing a dead body directly on the ground, 
without use of any funerary structure, was not necessarily regarded 
as wrong- in Zoroastrian orthopraxy. Indeed, in the Vendidad itself it 
is conceded (VI. 51) that, if means are lacking for more costly 
procedures, a skeleton may be left to lie on bare ground; and 
exposure of a corpse in such a manner seems to have been practised 
on occasion even under the "orthodox" Sasanians. 50 The essential 
requirement was evidently, however, that the ground in question 
should be arid; the sin of nasu-spaya was to expose a corpse in this 
way in a fertile place, where it could contaminate water, earth, or 
plants. 31 Plainly, the guilt of such an action is more readily incurred 
in some regions than in others. Thus when the Parsis settled in 
Gujarat, which was at that time densely forested, they could not 
find barren places for their dakhmas and had to set these in verdant 

27 The Jataka, ed. V. Fausboll. VI, p. 208 11. 27-30; cf. Kuhn, I.e.; Charpen- 
tier, art. cit., p. 145. 

28 Cf. HZ I 298-9; II 182-3; Sources, 125. 

M See Benveniste, "Coutumes funeraires de TArachosic", A Locust's Leg, 
Studies in honour of S. H. Taqizadeh, ed. W. B. Henning and E. Yarshater, 
London 1962, 39-^3. 

Agathias 11.23. writing of Persian funerary customs in the 6th century A.C., 
speaks of dead bodies "scattered at random all over the plain"; but from his 
account it appears that such plains would have been large areas near a city — 
probably barren — set aside, presumably, for exposure of the dead. In 11.31 he tells 
of some Greek travellers coming on a solitary naked corpse near a highway. They 
buried it, philanthropically, only to find the next morning that it had been 
exhumed again. 

See Benveniste, art. cit., citing (p. +2) as vital evidence Vd. VI. 3. 



jungle; whereas there are few places in Iran from which desert or 
rock cannot be reached fairly easily. Possibly the Zoroastrians of 
Harahvaiti (in the past an even more fertile and well-watered 
region than now) experienced difficulties similar to those of the 
Parsis, and were reproached by visiting priests from less favoured 
areas for not carrying their dead many miles to avoid committing 
nasu-spaya. Whether or not this is the true explanation of the 
Vendidad passage, it is plain that Harahvaiti is considered there to 
be a Zoroastrian land, which, though assailed thus by the Evil 
Spirit, had been created one of the best of countries by Ahura 

This was true also of Gandhara/Vaekereta (Vd. 1.9); and there 
the Zoroastrian rite of exposure is attested at the time of Alexander, 
one of whose companions, Aristoboulos, is quoted as saying that in 
Taxila the dead were "thrown out to be devoured by vultures". 32 
His observation suggests that Zoroastrians were then numerous in 
that "great and flourishing city", the descendants presumably of 
colonists of the Achaemenian period. 33 

As'oka and the promulgation of his Dhamma 

In early Buddhist works the Kambojas follow the Gandharans as 
fifteenth and sixteenth in a list of Sixteen Great Powers or 
Nations. 3 * This list is held to be a mnemonic one, and is probably 
older than the texts in which it is found- In such texts the Kambo- 
jas are repeatedly linked not only with the Gandharans but also 
with the "Yonas". This was the Persian name for Ionians, and 
hence for Hellenes in general, which the Indians had taken over 
(creating from it in Sanskrit a back-formation, "Yavana"); and it is 
with the Yonas and Gandharans that the Kambojas appear in close 
association, as peoples of north-west India, in one of the edicts of 
the third Mauryan emperor, Piyadassi Asoka (268-239?). 35 He 
had a remarkable number of edicts recorded on stone; and it is 
through these that something is known directly of the Iranians of 
Arachosia and Gandhara during his reign. 

32 StraboXV.1.62. 

33 J. Marshall, Taxila, Cambridge 1951, I, !2- 

■13, supposed this eastern 
Gandharan city to have been actually founded by the Persians; but although their 
impact there was strong, it is now known to predate the Achaemenian conquest. 

*♦ See T. W. Rhys Davids, CU India I, 172-3. 

35 There are small divergences still among scholars over Asoka's dates. For the 
above see P. H. L. Eggermont, The chronology of Asoka Moriya, Leiden 1956, as 
slightly revised in his "Xew notes on Asoka and his successors", Persica II, 
I96.VI966, 27-70. Thapar, Asoka, gives 269-232. 





The first identification of one of As'oka's edicts was made in 1837, 
and fragments from others were still being found in the 1980's. 3 ^ 
The edicts divide by content into two broad categories: a large one 
containing general pronouncements, essentially on moral and so- 
cial matters, the other more personal and confessional, with close 
regard to Buddhism (to which the king was converted early in his 
reign). 37 In the first category the chief group is formed by the major 
rock edicts (MRE), which were carved in sets on rocks in well- 
frequented places. Fourteen of these sets are known, of which eight 
are complete. 88 There are also six other major edicts engraved as a 
group on pillars (PE), or rather on free-standing columns, with on 
one pillar a seventh added. 39 It is probable that all these edicts were 
also carved on the walls of buildings, but only odd slabs survive. 40 
Asoka evidently sought to reach all his subjects with his proclama 
tions, and so these were drawn up not in Sanskrit but in whateve 
colloquial tongue was used in local administration. The script was 
generally Brahmi, and the primary language Eastern Prakrit. (This 
was spoken in Magadha, the Mauryas' own kingdom, with its 
capital at Pataliputra, modern Patna.) The edicts were then trans- 
lated, many into Western and North-Western Prakrit (Gandhari); 41 
but the use of more localized scripts and languages was authorized, 
presumably indeed encouraged. So among the Kambojas the ver- 
sions were in Aramaic, and were rendered in a way to be more 
readily comprehended by Zoroastrians; and this brings the whole 
matter within the scope of a history of the Iranian religion. 

The texts of Asoka's edicts appear to have been sent out from 
Magadha to local governors and officials, who were charged with 
their translation (where necessary) and engraving/ 2 The act of 

t mof f; ^ A !)T Ch ' n and K " R Norman ' Gui( ie to the Asokan inscriptions, SAS 
SAS 4 iq^" q^n? man ' ""^ '° Und fragment of an Mo ^ n inscription' 1 , 
For the text, with French transl., of all inscriptions known down to 194-3 (i e 
the vast majoruy) see J. Bloch, Les Inscriptions d'Asoka. Earlier, with Eng 
inoftA i Hultzsch ' The mscn Ptions of Asoka, Corpus Insc. Indicarum I, Oxford 
1925. A less stnctiy literal English translation is provided by Thapar, oc pp 
250-66, from which the citations given below are taken, except where otherwise 

38 At two of the 8 sites, Dhauli and Jaugada in Kalinga, the llth-13th MRE's 
areomitted, and 2 separate edicts added, not found elsewhere. 

I.e. on that originally standing ac Topra, but removed to Delhi hence 
referred to as Delhi-Topra. 

™ See Norman, SAS 4, 100-1, and below, p. 146 with n 1 12 

ka n-5* T 81 ^* ° C "' Pp - 43_86; H - W Bailey ' "Gandhari", BSOAS XI. 1946, 
7b4-97; L. Alsdorf, "Zu den Asoka-Inschriften", Indoloeen-Taeuiie 1959 ed 
E. Waldschmidt, Gottingen, 58-66. ' 

See Fussman. art. cit. in n. 20. p. 633 S. 

having royal proclamations carved on stone is thought to have been 
inspired by the example of the Achaemenians, whose works were 
evidently well-known to the Mauryas; 43 but few people, in those 
largely aliterate times, could have read the engraved texts, whose 
practical purpose would have been generally limited to the occa- 
sions when they were read aloud by an official for an assembled 
group. In one engraved edict Asoka explicitly enjoins that this is to 
be done at specified intervals, and also, between these times, "even 
to a single person". 44 The carved inscriptions moreover silently 
proclaimed, by their visible presence, the greatness and paternal 
power of the king, reaching out through his vast domains, 45 

This power was largely devoted, on the evidence of his edicts, to 
promoting the welfare and stability of society through inculcating 
the observance of Dhamma (Skt. Dharma). This much-discussed 
word, usually rendered in the light of later usage as "law", had in 
Asoka's application of it no juridical sense, but was rather a code of 
conduct that was both social and highly moral, 4 * whose observance 
by every individual, the king was convinced, would bring about 
"the welfare of the whole world". 47 The details of his concept have 
received much scholarly consideration, 48 but in order to consider its_ 
likely impact on his Zoroastrian subjects a citation of some of his 
own most significant words must suffice. Thus the second pillar 
edict offers a brief general definition: ''Dhamma is good. And what 
is Dhamma? It is having few faults and many good deeds, mercy, 
charity, truthfulness and purity". 49 What constitutes good deeds is 
expounded repeatedly in other edicts. "It is good to be obedient to 
one's mother and father, friends and relatives, to be generous to 
brahmans and sramanas, it is good . . . not only to spend little, but to 
own the minimum of property". 50 "Dhamma . . . includes regard for 
slaves and servants, respect for teachers . . .". 51 "In a family relatives 
must treat each other with respect". 52 "The Beloved of the Gods 
wishes that all beings should be unharmed, self-controlled, calm in 

1S For a bibliography on traces of Persian cultural influence in the Mauryan 
empire see F. Scialpi, "The ethics of Asoka and the religious inspiration of the 
Achaemenids", EW, n.s. 34, 1984, 55-74. 

44 First Separate RE (Dhauli and Jaugada), Bloch, o.c, p. 139; Thapar, o.c, 
p. 258. 

45 Cf. Fussman, art. cit., pp. 634-5. 

46 See Senart, Les inscriptions de Piyadasi, II, 308-19; and further below. 

47 MRE VI, Bloch, p. 108, Thapar, p. 253. 

48 See (with references) Thapar, o.c, pp. 137-81. 

49 Bloch, o.c, p. 162; Thapar, o.c, p. 262. 

50 MRE III, Bloch, pp. 96-7, Thapar. p. 251. 

51 MRE IX, Bloch. p. 115, Thapar, p. 254. 

52 Minor RE, Bloch. p. 151, Thapar, p. 259. 





mind, and gentle". 53 Gentleness was to be extended beyond man- 
kind to all other creatures, whose lives were to be spared whenever 
possible. Thus the first major rock edict runs: "The Beloved of the 
Gods, Piyadassi the king, has had this inscription on Dhamma 
engraved. Here no living thing, having been killed, is to be 
sacrificed . . . Formerly in the kitchens of the Beloved of the Gods, 
the king Piyadassi, many hundreds of thousands of living animals 
were killed daily for meat. But now, at the time of writing this 
inscription on Dhamma, only three animals are killed, two peacocks 
and a deer, and the deer not invariably. Even these three animals 
will not be killed in future." 54 Later the king declares: "I have 
conferred many benefits on man, animals, birds, and fish, even to 
saving their lives"; 55 and in the fifth pillar edict he gives a list of the 
creatures whose killing he specifically forbade, in the twenty-sixth 
year of his reign. Among those creatures whose names are fully 
comprehensible are "parrots . . . swans . . . pigeons, bats, ants, tor- 
toises, boneless fish, . . . skate, porcupines, squirrels, deer, lizards, 
domesticated animals, rhinoceroses, . . . and all quadrupeds which 
are of no utility and are not eaten". 56 For many of Asoka's subjects 
his prohibitions against taking creature life must have made dif- 
ficulties, indeed hardship; and for the Kambojas this part of his 
Dhamma presented a double religious problem. For them (as for the 
Brahmans of the time) blood sacrifice was at the centre of their 
solemn worship; 57 and they had moreover the religious duty to kill 
khrqfstras, and regarded as such several of the creatures listed by the 
king (e.g. ants and lizards), while the general category of "all 
quadrupeds which are of no utility and are not eaten" included 
beasts of prey, which, as destroyers of the creatures of Vohu 
Manah, were the worst khrafstras of all. 

Further, Asoka's stress on asceticism and the merit of owning 
little property was not in accord with the principles of their own 
faith, which taught that good men should seek to prosper, enjoy life 
themselves, and help others to do so. Otherwise there seems little in 
these definitions which they could not readily reconcile with their 
own beliefs, and this, it is clear, was all that was officially asked of 
them and of others; Tor Asoka, ruling over peoples with a great 
diversity of faiths, included in his Dhamma religious tolerance. This 
is set out most fully in his twelfth rock edict: 5 * "The Beloved of the 

53 MRE XIII, Bloch, p. 129, Thapar, p. 256. 
31 Bloch, pp. 92-3, Thapar, p. 250. 
30 PE 2, Bloch, p. 162, Thapar, p. 262. 
5 * Bloch, pp. 163-6, Thapar, p. 264. 

CE HZ I 343, s.v. sacrifice. 
58 Bloch, pp. 12 1-4, Thapar, p. 255. 

Gods, the king Piyadassi, honours all sects and both ascetics and 
laymen, with gifts and various forms of recognition. But the Be- 
loved of the Gods does not consider gifts or honour to be as 
important as the advancement of the essential doctrine of all beliefs 
(pdsamda-.) 59 This progress of the essential doctrine takes many 
forms, but its basis is the control of one's speech, so as not to extol 
one's own belief or disparage another's on unsuitable occasions. . . . 
One should honour another man's belief, for by doing so one in- 
creases the influence of one's own belief and benefits that of the 
other man . . . This is the desire of the Beloved of the Gods, that all 
beliefs should be well-informed, and should teach that which is 
good". In accordance with these principles, Asoka declares his own 
convictions plainly only in those edicts addressed specifically to his 
Buddhist co-religionists. 60 As emperor he shows impartiality, refer- 
ring regularly and respectfully to Hindu brahmans as well as to 
Buddhist hamanas, giving the former indeed precedence; and in two 
inscriptions recording benefactions to the Ajivikas, 61 an ascetic 
order which had enjoyed his father's patronage, but which was 
little respected by Buddhists generally. 

The Dhamma of Asoka's major edicts is accordingly not the 
specific Dhamma of Buddhism, but rather a general law, expressed 
in traditional Indian terms, by which he thought all men could and 
should live; and it was promulgated, not by Buddhist monks or 
other priests, but by the king's officials. 62 Thus in the fifth major 
rock edict he declares: "In the past there were no officers of 
Dhamma. It was I who first appointed them. . . . They are busy 
among those of all beliefs (pasamda-), establishing Dhamma, in- 
creasing the interest in Dhamma, and attending to the welfare and 
happiness of those who are devoted to Dhamma, among the Yonas, 
the Kambojas, the Gandharans, the Risthikas, the Pitinikas, and 
the other peoples of the west. . . . Everywhere throughout my 
empire the officers of Dhamma are busy in everything relating to 

59 Pasamda (prasamda) is translated by Bloch and Thapar, and generally, as 
"secte, sect"; but the observations of E. Benveniste, J A 1964, 153, seem convinc- 
ing: "... pasamda ... in the Buddhist texts denotes 'heresy', but in the inscrip- 
tions it is applied to all forms of belief, including that of the king. Independently of 
the etymology (which remains uncertain), could one not consider the primary 
sense to be '(distinctive) belief, specific doctrine', and the derivative one that of 
'heretical sect', which would have developed in a Buddhism that had become 
dogmatic and attached to its orthodoxy?". 

60 I.e. the minor inscriptions of Bhabra, Rummindei and Nigalisagar. 

61 See Bloch, p. 156, Thapar, p. 260. 

62 See Senart, Inscriptions de Piyadasi, II 310; E. Lamotte, Histoire du 
bouddhisme indien, 255. Thapar, o.c. ; pp. 137-81, seeks to analyse the social, 
political and religious conditions in India which caused Asoka to evolve his 





Dhamrna . . ,'\ 63 The names of the first three peoples listed here are 
linked together grammatically in a way that emphasizes their close 
propinquity; 64 and further proof of the activity of Asoka's officials 
among them is provided by the existence of inscribed versions of his 
edicts, or passages from them, in the languages of all three, the 
written one of the Kambojas being Aramaic. The fact that Aramaic 
versions were made indicates that the Kambojas enjoyed a measure 
of autonomy, and that they not only preserved their Iranian 
identity, but were governed in some measure by members of their 
own community, on whom was laid the responsibility of transmit- 
ting to them the king's words, and having these engraved on stone. 

Versions of Asoka's edicts in Gandhara and Arachosia 

The best preserved Asokan inscriptions in the north-west are in 
Gandhara, which possesses two of the eight copies of the major rock 
edicts, both carved near once busy roads and at a height to be 
easily legible. One set is by the village of Shahbazgarhl in the 
district of Peshawar, where formerly a road, branching off from the 
great highway up the Kabul valley, led through Swat to Inner 
Asia; 65 the other is near Mansehra in the district of Hazara, by the 
most direct route from Taxila to Kashmir. 66 The texts of both are 
translated into North-western Prakrit, though with no great thor- 
oughness, since numerous Eastern Prakrit forms survive 67 ; and 
both, alone of Asoka's inscriptions, are in Kharosthi script. Since 
this script derived from Achaemenian chancellery Aramaic, its use 
is "a sign of the durable character of Iranian influences in the 
north-west". 68 Moreover, small Iranianisms occur in the language 
of these inscriptions, which had evidently survived as part of local 
bureaucratic usage. Thus "an epigraphic formula, repeated several 
times at Shahbazgarhl, contains the Old Persian word dipi 'inscrip- 
tion' in its original form and not in the Indian adaptation lipi t 
likewise the adjective nipista, nipesita (from Old Persian nipista-) 
'written', instead of the usual likhita". 69 

It was in Gandhara, at Taxila, which had become one of the four 
provincial capitals of the Maury an empire, that the first fragment 

63 Bloch, pp. 103-05, Thapar, p. 232. 

64 Bloch, p. 103 n. The Yonas and Kambojas are mentioned again by the 
compound term yonakamboja-, in MRE XI11, Bloch, p. 130, Thapar, p. 256. 

55 Foucher, La vieille route, I 39 with fig. 8; Bloch, o.c, pp. 19-20. 

66 Ibid. 

67 See Alsdorf, art. tit. in n. 41, p. 61. 

68 Bloch, o.c, p. 86. 

69 Benveniste, JA 1964, 140. 

was found, in 1915, of an Aramaic version of an Asokan edict. This 
had been carved on a marble column, part of which had been 
reused in a later building; and only twelve broken lines survive. 
The script was immediately identified as Aramaic of the Achaeme- 
nian chancellery type 70 ; but it was some years before the text was 
recognized as being from an Asokan edict, 71 and before the Iranian 
words in it were isolated and discussed. 72 The first two to be 
explained were hwnstwn "good command" and hwptysty '"good 
obedience"; nstwn is found (apparently as an Old Persian loan- 
word, < *nistawana) in Biblical Aramaic, and ptysty was seen to 
represent Avestan paiti.asti "obedience", a word not previously 
recorded in any Middle Iranian language. Subsequently the dis- 
covery of another Aramaic inscription led to the identification of 
this Taxila fragment as a shortened rendering of the central pas- 
sage of the major rock edict IV, which runs 73 : "Non-injury to 
creatures. Towards relatives, attention. Towards brakmavs and 
sramanas^ attention. Towards mother and father and elders, obedi- 
ence. This, and many other kinds of Dhamrna practice, has been 
promoted. And it will be promoted for ever by the Friend of the 
Gods, Priyadarsi, the king, this Dhamrna practice." The identifica- 
tion of the text made it possible to establish that *huniston is used for 
dhamrna, and *hupatyasti for susrusa "obedience", while sramana "as- 
cetic" is translated by 3 r&trs (Av. ar^usa-) "upright", "righteous 
(person)", a word used by Zoroaster in his Gathas for himself and 
the just generally. Other Iranian words identified in the fragment 
were dmydty "creatures*' (Av. damibdta-), and a restored hww[yst] 
"elder" (Av. hvoista-fhuuoista-)™ The expression "friend (beloved) 

70 L. D. Barnett and A. Cowley. JRAS 1915, 340-7. 

71 By E. Herzfeld, see apud J. Marshall, Epigraphia Indica 29, 1927/28, 
251-3. For a critical bibliography of work on the inscription (including his own 
important studies) see H. Humbach, "The Aramaic Asoka inscription from 
Taxila", German Scholars in India, Bombay 1976, II, 118-21. 

72 By F. C. Andreas, "Erklarung der aramaischen Inschrift von Taxila", from 
his Nachlass, ed. H. A. Winckler, Nachrichten d. Gesellschaft d. Wiss. zu 
Gottingen, 1932, 1, 1-17. 

73 Bloch, o.c, pp. 98-9, Thapar, o.c, p. 251. The English rendering given 
above is essentially that of Humbach, art. cit. in n. 71, pp. 125-6, On the edict's 
identification and interpretation see H. Humbach, "Die aramaische Inschrift von 
Taxila", Abh. d. Akad d. Wiss. und d. Literatur zu Mainz, 1969, no. 1, 1-13; and 
in more detail in art. cit. in n. 71, pp. 124-30, with additional notes in MSS 26, 
1969, 39-42. 

71 *hwwyst, as Humbach points Out (MSS 26, 40) survives in Sogdian, meaning 
"chief, superior; teacher; elder". For forms and references see I. Gershevitch, 
Grammar of Manichean Sogdian, Oxford 1954, § § 230, 342; and add fwyst and 
yuystk from the Mugh documents, used as a civil or religious title, borne in one 
instance (documents Nov. 3 and 4). by an official presiding over a marriage, see 
V. A. Livsic, Juridiceskie dokumenty i pis'ma, Moscow 1962, 38-9. 





of the gods", devdnampriya-, a fixed epithet which amounted to a 
royal title, is rendered by Aramaic mr'n^ "our Lord", the form of 
address used for princely dignitaries in Aramaic papyri from 
Achaemenian Egypt.' 5 

The next Aramaic inscription to be discovered, in 1932, was also 
fragmentary. It too was found in Gandhara, but close to its western 
frontier, near Pul-i Darunta in the Laghman district, at the north- 
ern end of the Jelalabad plain. The text, carved on a small, broken 
stone, consisted of eight incomplete lines. These were wholly in 
Aramaic script, but proved linguistically to be a mixture of Ar- 
amaic and North-western Prakrit. Brief and mutilated though the 
text was, it was brilliantly analysed as consisting of bilingual 
citations of Asoka's words. 76 

Over twenty years later, in 1958, the first and only fully pre- 
served Aramaic inscription was discovered, carved on a rock at the 
foot of a cliff in the Qaitul range that sheltered Alexandria-in- 
Arachosia (Old Kandahar). The highway from that city to Herat 
passed close by. 77 The inscription consisted of two texts, one of 
fourteen lines in Greek, the other, beneath it, of eight lines in 
Aramaic; and these proved to be independent but parallel render- 
ings of passages from Asoka's edicts, introduced by an allusion to 
the king's consecration ten years previously. 78 The text, which has 
been characterized as the concisest of abstracts of the major rock 
edicts, limited to a few cardinal points, 79 coincided in part with that 
of the Taxila fragment, for whose full interpretation it furnished the 
key. Because of the nature of their alphabets, the new Aramaic 
inscription (known to Iranists as Kandahar I), though spatially 
shorter than the Greek one, proved slightly longer in content; and it 
provided the first continual text for studying the Aramaic written at 
this period by eastern Iranian scribes. Comparison of it with the 
Aramaic of Achaemenian documents from Egypt led to the conclu- 

" See E. Benveniste, J A 1964, 143. 

36 W. B. Henning, "The Aramaic inscription of Asoka found in Lampaka", 
BSOAS XIII, 1949, 80-8 (q.v. for a bibliography of the inscription), 

Jl See D. Schlumberger, JA 1958, 1-2, 6; G. Fussman, "Notes sur la topogra- 
phie de l'ancienne Kandahar", Arts Asiatiques XIII, 1966, 34, 43. 

78 On this inscription see D. Schlumberger, L. Robert, A. Dupont-Sommer, 
E. Benveniste, "Une bilingue greco-arameenne d' Asoka", JA 1958, 1-48; G. 
Pugliese Caratelli and G. Levi della Vida, Un editto bilingue greco-aramaico di 
Asoka, Rome 1958; G. Pugliese Caratelli and G. Garbint, A bilingual Graeco- 
Aramaic edict by Asoka, Rome 1964. 

79 So L. Alsdorf, art. cit. in n. 41, p. 64. At first the text was analysed as 
representing passages from MRE VIII (i.e. the introductory dating formula, 
which, it js agreed, here provides no more than a terminus post quetri), and IV, but 
Alsdorf points to echoes also of MRE I and VII, and further from VIII. 

sion that "two centuries after the Great Kings, at the other end of 
the Iranian world, we find the same kind of phrases, the same 
system of titles, the same language similarly larded with Iranian 
words", 80 while calligraphically the shapes of the characters at- 
tested a linear evolution from Achaemenian chancellery script. 81 
Evidently training in the scribal schools of Arachosia and Gandh- 
ara had continued uninterrupted under the rule of both Macedo- 
nian and Maurya. Yet there had been developments. Thus in 
Kandahar I the words "mother" and "father" are rendered, not by 
Aramaic 'mh, y bh, but by the forms 'mwhy, y bwhy, i.e. "his mother", 
"his father". Here, it has been observed, "-wky is a petrified 
element which, in the state of development reached at the time in 
question, was deprived of its original value. What is written in 
Aramaic script 'bwhy . . . and 'mwhy . . . was read by the scribes of 
that period simply as Iranian /»7 'father' and mat 'mother', without 
a pronoun." 82 The form 'bwhy occurs also in the Taxila fragment, 
showing that this development was common to the Arachosia- 
Gandhara regions; and it and certain idiosyncratic uses of Aramaic 
words mark a stage in the progress towards the usages of late 
Parthian and Sasanian times, when the various Middle Iranian 
languages, by then written in distinctive scripts, had fossilized 
Aramaic forms surviving as ideograms among phonetically re- 
corded Iranian words. 83 These ideograms differed somewhat be- 
tween the different linguistic areas; and so it is of special interest to 
find in Kandahar I the Aramaic word 3 p "and" being followed by 
zy, "here apparently a purely expletive word, adding nothing to the 
sense". 84 This usage appears linked with the later Sogdian one of 
'PZY as an ideogram for "moreover, besides, and" 85 , which is 
unknown in Western Middle Iranian. Such developments made it 
proper, it was suggested, to term the language of these third- 
century texts "Aramaeo- Iranian" rather than Aramaic, it being by 
then "merely a written medium of communication, which was 
exclusively employed by professional scribes, whose mother-tongue 
was one of the numerous Iranian dialects". 86 Aramaic had always, 
however, been only a written medium in Iran, whose use belonged 
to the scribal craft; and although some special term may be useful 


Benveniste, art. cit., p. 43. 
Dupont-Sommer, JA 1966, 442-4. 
Humbach, art. cit. in n. 71, p. 129. 
See W. B. Henning, "Mitteliranisch". 
Dupont-Sommer, art. cit., p. 26. 
Benveniste apud Dupont-Sommer. I.e. 
Humbach, art. cit. in n. 71, p. 1 18. 

S. ShakedJRAS 1969, 120. 






to mark this transitional stage of the Seleucid period, "Irano- 
Aramaic" would be more appropriate, for both script and language 
are still recognizably Aramaic, and the relatively few Iranian 
words and usages which occur fall far short of a deliberate attempt 
by the scribes to "free themselves from Aramaic and to write their 
own language". 87 

The vocabulary of this Irano- Aramaic was necessarily restricted, 
since from the time when they adopted Aramaic for writing the 
Iranians had used it for practical purposes only: administration, 
records, law, commerce, private letters. For the Kambojan scribes, 
generations later, the Aramaic which they thus employed was a 
wholly dead language, of alien structure, mechanically learnt in 
their schools. They had therefore no means of developing its 
potentialities to meet new linguistic demands such as were made by 
Asoka's edicts, with their large moral content. In translating these 
they had therefore to draw relatively frequently on their own 
spoken tongue to supply appropriate terms. The eight lines of 
Kandahar I contain accordingly a number of Iranian words, 
several not previously recorded, but with known cognates. 03 In 
translation the complete text runs: 89 "Ten years having passed (?), 
it came about (?) that our lord the king Priyadrasi became the 
establisher of the Truth. Since then evil has diminished for all men, 
and he has caused all misfortunes to disappear; and on all the earth 
there is peace and joy. And moreover, there is this concerning 
nourishment: for our lord the king only few (animals) are killed; on 
seeing that, all men have ceased (to kill animals); even those men 
who catch fish, those men are subject to a prohibition. At the same 
time, those who were without restraint, they have ceased to be 

Henning, op. cit., p. 24. Humbach had accordingly no real grounds (I.e.: 
MSS 26, 1969, 4-1 and MSS 30, 1972, 47) for challenging Henning's considered 
findings on the chronology of such developments. On Humbach's theory of an 
"Aramaeo- Iranian" secj. A. Delaunay, Kratylos XXI, 1976 [1977], 81: "a text in 
which the general structures of the language and vocabulary are Aramaic is . . . 
Aramaic and nothing else. Debased Aramaie without doubt, an artificial 
language . . . but Aramaic all the same." Cf. in the same vein T. Oelsner, OLZ 72 
1977, 515. 

88 These were first discussed by Benveniste, art. cit., pp. 36-43; gee further 
Humbach's subsequent discussions of the Taxila inscription, cited above in n. 73. 
Pace G. Ito, "Iranological contributions of Aiokan inscriptions", Monumentum 
G. Morgenstierne, Acta Iranica 21, 1981, 310-15, the fact that there are cognate 
words in the "Kambojan" dialects and in Avestan (all eastern Iranian languages) 
by no means proves that "the Avestan language was current in ancient Afghani- 
stan", nor does it contribute evidence for the hypothesis that Seistan was the 
homeland of Zoroaster. (Art. cit., p. 308 n. 1 , Ito gives references to earlier articles 
of his on the Aramaic versions of Asoka's inscriptions.) 

89 Dupont-Sommer, art. cit., p. 22. 

without restraint. And there is obedience to mother and father and 
to elders, conformably with the duties which fate imposes on each, 
And for all pious men, there is no judgment. This [i.e. the practice 
of Dhammd] has been profitable for all men, and will be more 

Among the Iranian words used here are prbst (*frabast) "unre- 
strained" and ptyzbt (*patizbat) "prohibited". As in the Taxila 
inscription, hwptysty is used for "obedience", but otherwise there 
are different choices of words. Thus Kandahar I has mzyst- 
(mazist-) cognate with Avestan mazista, for "elder", instead of the 
Taxila kwwyst-; and, strikingly, instead of hwnstwn "good com- 
mand" for the difficult concept of Asoka's Dharnma, it uses the 
Aramaic word qsyt\ approximately "truth", representing evidently 
the concept of asa. Thus the Arachosian scribe interpreted Asoka's 
basic moral law by a term of deep moral (as well as religious) 
significance for Zoroastrians. 90 Further, the effects of observing that 
law are described in markedly Zoroastrian ways, that is, as the 
diminution of evil and as the beginning, instead of "prosperity", of 
"peace (and) joy", r'm sty (ram sati), two desiderata which recur 
again and again, together, in Zoroastrian texts. 91 Further, the 
individuals who help to bring about this happy state will not suffer 
judgment (i.e. damnation), a belief essential to Zoroastrian moral 
theology but wholly absent from Asoka's thought. 92 The Mauryan 
king, as "establisher of the Truth", is thus presented as a saosyant, 
one who helps to bring about the salvation of the world; indeed, 
with his insistence on sparing creatures' lives he could even have 
been regarded by some Zoroastrians as a forerunner of the 
Saosyant, for during that Saviour's golden age men will cease to eat 
flesh and no blood will be shed. 93 This may then have reduced, for 
some at least in the community, the problems created for them by 
Asoka's decrees of non-injury to animals. It is in fact conceivable 
that for some Kambojas Asoka, providing in his prime good 
government, peace and religious toleration, appeared as a chosen 
instrument of Ahura Mazda's, just as the Achaemenian Cyrus had 
appeared as an anointed messiah of Yahweh's to Second Isaiah. 
Jews could not have regarded an Iranian king in this way, nor 
Kambojas an Indian one, had the two rulers concerned not been 
able to reconcile their personal beliefs (in Zoroastrianism and 

90 See ib., pp. 23-4, 34. 

51 See Dupont-Sommer and Benveniste, art. cit., pp. 34, 39-40. 

92 See Dupont-Sommer, ib., pp. 31-2, 34. 

93 E.g. GBd. XXXIV.1-3, ed. B. T. Anklesaria, pp. 282^. On the later 
doctrine of the three Saosyants see below, p. 375 n 56. 



Buddhism respectively) with toleration for the diverse religions of 
their multiracial subjects. 94 

The various existing Aramaic translations were presumably all 
made locally; but different choices of words between Kandahar I 
and Taxila do not necessarily indicate a lack of communication 
between the Iranian scribes of Arachosia and Gandhara. The 
Kambojas' exposure to Asoka's propaganda may have led to a 
steadily deepening awareness among them of the nature of his 
conceptions, and so to a fuller adaptation of these to their own 
teachings and beliefs. A small but striking common element in 
these two Aramaic inscriptions is that both use, for the king's 
personal name, the North-Western Prakrit form Priyadrasi (prydrs), 
whereas the Greek version of the Kandahar bilingual has the 
Eastern Prakrit Piodassis (IIio6aaoT|5). 95 This suggests that the 
Iranian scribes of Arachosia worked more closely with their coun- 
terparts in Gandhara than with their Greek fellow-citizens. There 
was evidently much traffic at this time (administrative, commercial 
and other) up and down the ancient highway between Kandahar 
and Taxila; and so there was presumably no difficulty in communi- 
cating by letter, if not in person. 

A few years later, in 1963, a block of stone was bought in 
Kandahar bazaar which came evidently from the ruins of the old 
city. This bore a fragmentary inscription, now known as Kandahar 
II, which proved to be an Indo-Aramaic bilingual of the same type 
as that from Pul-i Darunta. 96 Although only seven lines long, this 
contained more text than the latter, and through their similarities 
enabled it to be better understood. Kandahar II was likewise 
written entirely in Aramaic characters, of which an epigraphist has 
said: "Whilst the script of the Pul-i Darunteh inscription is formal 
and those of Kandahar I and Taxila take an intermediary course, 
the script of Kandahar II is cursive; it is a careless, somewhat 
hastily incised, inscription. Therefore we are faced with several 
difficulties in the reading, e.g. some forms ofdalet, waw, nun and resh 
resemble each other. Although this script exhibits the first steps 
towards an eastern development of the Aramaic script, it is a 

9 * On Gyrus' adherence to Zoroastiiaiusm see (with further references) HZ II 
41 ff.; G. Gnoli, De Zoroastrc a Mani, 53 ff*.; Boyce, "The religion of Cyrus the 
Great", Achaemenid History IK, ed. A. Kuhrt and H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg, 
Leiden 1985, 15-31. 

5 See Alsdorf, art. cit. in n. 41, p. 63. 
See E. Benv^eniste and A. Dupom-Sommer, "Une inscription indo-arameenne 
d'Asoka provenant de Kandahar (Afghanistan)", JA 1966, 437-65; S. Shaked, 
"Notes on the new Asoka inscription from Kandahar", JRAS 1969, 118-22. 



straightforward evolution from the standard Aramaic writing of the 
Persian period, and most of its traits can be attested in the Egyp- 
tian Aramaic inscriptions of the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.". 9 ' 

The text of the Kandahar bilingual was identified 98 as a render- 
ing of part of the last section of Asoka's seventh pillar edict, 
otherwise uniquely known from the Delhi-Topra column; 99 and this 
stresses some of the same social virtues as the passage from the 
fourth major rock edict translated in the Taxila and Kandahar I 
inscriptions. In translation, the Prakrit runs: "Whatever good 
deeds I have done, the world has consented to them and followed 
them. Thus obedience to mother and father, obedience to teachers, 
deference to those advanced in age, and regard for brahmans and 
sramanas, the poor and wretched, slaves and servants, have in- 
ereased and will increase". 100 In the evidently fairly free Aramaic 
rendering the phrase "in obedience" accordingly occurs twice, as 
bptystykn'. 101 The final element, --kn\ has yet to be explained; but 
ptysty, governed here by an Aramaic preposition, was instantly 
recognized as Iranian patyasti, occurring in Taxila and Kandahar I 
with the prefix Aw-; and this word thus seems established as a living 
element in the third-century "Kambojan" languages. This then 
destroyed an earlier supposition that in using it these eastern 
Iranian scribes were drawing directly on Avestan vocabulary, i.e. 
that they were deliberately using their own scriptural terminology 
to render the ethical injunctions of Asoka. 

The text inscribed at Pul-i Darunta remains unidentified, and 
appears to be from an otherwise unknown edict of Asoka's; but it 
and that of Kandahar II are set out in the same way, with a short 
section of Middle Indian (North-Western Prakrit) alternating with 
one of Aramaic, the two being linked by the word skyty. The precise 
meaning of this word is debated, but it appears more probably 
Iranian than Indian. 102 The technique of alternating the Prakrit 
text with its translation has been seen as one developed by Asoka's 

97 J. Naveh apud S. Shaked, art. cit., p. 118. 

98 By Benveniste, art. cit., p. 447 ff. 

99 Cf. above, p. 132 with n. 39. 

100 Bloch, o.c., p. 171, Thapar, o.c, p. 266. 

lcl b- rather than 1- according to Shaked, art. cit., p. 119. 

102 On the basis of these two inscriptions only ic was interpreted by C, Caillat, 
"La sequence SHYTY dans les inscriptions indo-arameennes d'Asoka'', JA 1966, 
467-70, as an Indian word. On it as probably an Iranian one, and its meaning 
and uses, see H. W. Bailev apud Shaked, art. cit., p. 122 n. 10; Shaked, ib., pp. 
121-2; H, Humbach in ' G. D. Davaiy and H. Humbach, "Eine weitere 
aramaoiranische Inschrift der Periode des Asoka aus Afghanistan", Abh. d. Akad. 
d. Wiss. u.d. Literatur zu Mainz, 1974, no. 1, 15. 



propagandists for indoctrinating his Dkamma 103 , but is so far at- 
tested only in these Indo-Iranian borderlands. It may therefore be 
significant that when eventually the Avesta was written down with 
its Middle Persian land this was how the two texts were set out: first 
a portion of Avestan, then its Middle Persian translation. It is very 
probable that this was how various oral lands in the diverse Iranian 
languages had been memorised by priests over generations; 104 and 
it is conceivable that this technique influenced the manner of 
expounding (and recording) Asoka's words by Zoroastrians for 
their co-religionists.' 05 

Thereafter two small Aramaic inscriptions were found in Gan- 
dhara, again in the Laghman district, not far from Pul-i Darunta. 
These are referred to as Laghman I and II. 106 The first, six lines 
long, was chanced on by two ethnologists in 1969, carved on a 
vertical slab of rock near the top of a spur overhanging the left bank 
of the Laghman river. The present road up the valley passes 
beneath this spur, but the old highway from Taxila to Bactria ran 
here up the river's right bank, where the ground is level. 107 The 
second inscription, found in 1973 by a deliberate search of the same 
area, is in a similar position, cut on a rock half-way up another hill, 
which dominates the valley at that point. This inscription was ten 
lines long; and its contents, no less than its position, proved to be 
very like those of Laghman I; but for both inscriptions the letters 
are shallowly incised, and the rock has weathered, so that their 
decipherment and interpretation have presented problems, some 
perhaps intractable. Each begins with a sentence dating it by a year 

103 Benveniste, art. cit„ p. 453. 

Thus words and phrases from an old Av. zand came to be incorporated in 
places in the original Av. text. The existence can rationally be postulated of 
Middle Iranian z^nds other than the MP one, which was made canonical under the 

If fhere were a parallel here, one would expect the Middle Indian text, as the 
original one, to come first, followed by its Aramaic "interpretation". ShaJted, art. 
cit., pp. 121-2, argues for the likelihood of the opposite sequence; but the texts are 
too fragmentary for certainty. 

106 Laghman I was published by A. Dupont-Sommer, li Une nouvelle inscription 
arameenne d'Asoka trouvee dans la vallee du Laghman (Afghanistan)", CRAI 
1970, 15B-73, with plates; critical observations by H. Humbach, "Die 
aramaische Asoka-Inschrift vom Laghman- Fluss", Indologen-Tagung 1971, ed. 
H. Hartel and V. Moeller, Wiesbaden 1973, 161-9. Laghman II was published 
by G. D. Davary and H. Humbach, op. cit. in n. 102. G. Ito, "Aiokan inscrip- 
tions, Laghman I and 11", St. Ir. 8, 1979, 175-83, offered a number of imagina- 
tive reinterpretations; and G. D. Davary, "Epigraph ische Forschungen in 
Afghanistan"; St. Ir. 10, 1981, 55-6, gave revised readings of Laghman IT, with 
references to observations made by various scholars since its first publication. 

107 See Foucher, La vieille route, I, p. 31 fig. 7 , p. 35. 



of "Priyadrasi the king", the tenth in the case of Laghman I, the 
sixteenth in that of Laghman II, which has a full Irano-Aramaic 
dating formula: B'LWL m'h SNT 16 "in the month Elul, year 16". 
Then follows in both a statement concerning the king's having 
forbidden the harming of fishes and other living creatures. What 
comes next is still obscure; but local place-names seem to occur, 
which has led to the suggestion that these inscriptions were way- 
marks, even though they would not have been actually legible from 
the plain below. 108 (Asoka speaks of having had way-marks made, 
though no others are known.) In this part of the inscriptions the 
problematic word shyty occurs again. Both inscriptions have a 
proper name *Wasu (w'sw) at the end, possibly as that of the 
official — Indian or Iranian ? — who authorised the engraving of the 
text; and Laghman II follows his with another name, wksivprtbg. 
This is plainly Iranian; and if its first elemenf is Waxs-, i.e. the 
Oxus 109 , this suggests cultural or family links with Bactria, not so 
far distant by the ancient highway running past the rock. 

Such links might, of course, have been old, predating both 
Macedonian and Mauryan conquests, with a family name being 
handed down over generations; but that the Indian frontier was not 
a sealed one, and created no barrier to cultural contacts with the 
west, is proved by the Greek versions of Asoka's edicts, two of 
which are now known. The first to be discovered, in 1958, was that 
inscribed above the Aramaic Kandahar I."° The relative position 
of the two texts indicates the continuing dominance of the Greeks at 
Alexandria-in-Arachosia; but the fact that they were carved 
together on the same rock, with equal care, and equally promi- 
nently, suggests also the continuing importance of the local Iranian 
community, and the respect shown them by the Hellenes; while the 
very different character of the two translations, and their total 
independence of each other, brings out with striking clarity the 
fundamental differences in the two cultures, and their stubborn 
separateness despite long contiguity. 

The second find of a Greek inscription was made, like that of 
the Indo-Aramaic bilingual from Kandahar, in 1963, when an 

108 See Humbach in Davary and Humbach, art. cit. in n. 102, p. 16; G. 
Fussman, "Quelques problemes asokeens", JA 1974, 381-5. 

109 Cf. below, pp. 179-80. P. Gignoux, St. Ir. 4, 1975, 137, proposed taking it to 
be Parthian wxs "pleasant, fair"; but this was part of an astonishing attempt by 
this scholar to interpret a Gandharan inscription of the mid 3rd century B.C. as 
being written "in a kind of mixed language", which "one could qualify as 
Atamato-Parthiari^ (his italics). 

110 For the basic bibliography see n. 78, above; and for additional works see 
W. Ball, Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanistan I, p. 146, II pp. 365-6. 



inscribed limestone block came to light in the ruins of Old Kanda- 
har. 111 This bore a text in twenty-two long lines; but it was 
fragmentary, for the block was evidently one of a number, presum- 
ably from the wall of a building. The text represents a long section 
of the twelfth, and the beginning of the thirteenth, major rock 
edicts; and since these edicts were regularly carved as a corpus, it 
has been deduced that the building in question had a Greek 
translation of all fourteen of them inscribed on its walls." 2 There 
may also, it is pointed out, have been an accompanying Aramaic 
version. 113 

The surprise of classicists on studying these Greek texts, at that 
time the most easterly ones known, was at least as great as that of 
Iranists over the Aramaic ones, The Greek renderings also proved 
to be free, paraphrases or abridgements rather than close transla- 
tions; and though at least once there is a slight distortion of the 
original meaning," 4 in general they present an elegant, thoughtful 
interpretation of Asoka's precepts for Hellenes. The most immedi- 
ately striking point is that the crucial word dhamma was rendered by 
eusebia *'piety" T which covers a different aspect of Asoka's funda- 
mental concept from that reflected by Aramaic qsyt 3 . 11 * Another 
point of interest was that the expression pasamda, "doctrinal system, 
belief", 116 was interpreted by diatribe "philosophical school/" 17 
"Throughout Greek tradition" (it has been observed) "the brah- 
mans had been philosophers in the eyes of the Greeks", 118 while on 
his side Asoka noted that there were brahmans, i.e. professional 
priests, in all lands except among the Yonas. 119 — What is generally- 
remarkable is that the language of these Arachosian translations 
was that current in the mid third century throughout the Hellenis- 
tic world; and that the translators drew for their vocabulary on 
contemporary literary usage, especially that of the philosophers 

Published by D. Schlumberger, "Une nouvelle inscription grecque 
d'Acoka", CRAI 1964, 126-34, with further commentary by L. Robert, pp. 
1 34—40. For additional bibliography see Ball, I.e. 

,J2 Schlumberger, art. cit, pp. 129, 133-4. Benveniste, JA 1964, 141, argued, 
however, for an especial importance for the Greeks of MRE XII, with its express 
message of religious tolerance (cf. above, p. 135) and XIII, where they themselves 
and several Hellenic kings (see further below) are expressly named. 

113 Schlumberger, ib., p. 129. 

ll * See Benveniste, art. cit., pp. 154-5. 

1.5 Schlumberger, JA 1958, 6; Benveniste, art. cit., p. 147: Alsdorf, art. cit. in n 41 
p. 65. 

1.6 Cf. above, n. 59. 

'" Schlumberger, CRAI 1964, 133; Benveniste, art. cit, p. 153. 

118 Robert. CRAI 1964, 136. 

119 MRE XIII, Bloch, o.c, p. 128, Thapar, o.c, p. 256. 



and sophists; and also, where appropriate, on the political termi- 
nology of the time, employing phrases which were standard diplo- 
matic ones, used both at the courts of kings and by cities which 
corresponded with them. 120 Moreover, the character of the carved 
letters, monumental and "severe", belonged to a lapidary style 
found in other parts of the Greek world at that time, and so 
provided further evidence that "the Hellenism of Arachosia . . . 
shared in the general life of Hellenism; it was not shut off without 
contacts in a hidden corner, to shrivel and grow ossified". 121 

From this it is evident that under the Mauryas communication 
with the west was unimpeded — a fact which is of no less interest for 
the history of Zoroast nanism than for that of Hellenism. It is true 
that the "Yonas" must have enjoyed a special position among the 
Mauryas' non-Indian subjects of the north-west, not only (it 
seems) as forming the recognized governing class, at least in 
Arachosia, but also as being of the same race and culture as the 
Seleucids, powerful neighbours with whom the Mauryas were on 
friendly terms. When Seleucus sent an ambassador to the court of 
Chandragupta, he chose Megasthenes, himself a Greek of Aracho- 
sia, who as such could be expected to have some knowledge of 
Indian ways and affairs; and subsequently Asoka, in a famous 
passage in the thirteenth rock edict, claimed to have carried the 
victory of Dhamma far beyond his own frontiers "to where reigns the 
Yona king Amtiyoka, and further away than Amtiyoka, four kings, 
Turamaya, Arptikini, Maka and Alikasudara 1 '. 122 These kings have 
all been identified as Hellenes: the first three as the Seleucid 
Antiochus II (261-246), Ptolemy II of Egypt (285-247), and 
Antigonus Gonatas of Macedonia (276-239). "Maka" is Magas of 
Cyrene, and "Alikasudara" is taken by some to be Alexander of 
Epirus, by others Alexander of Corinth. 123 The Greek translations 
of Arachosia show that among his own subjects Asoka had men 
well equipped to act as his envoys (or interpreters for his envoys) to 
the courts of these kings, and to dispute there with philosophers of 
every school, 124 

Asoka's Iranian subjects had no kindred beyond his borders who 

120 See Robert. JA 1958, 12 ff.; CRAI 1964, 136 ff. 

121 RobertJA 1958, 12. 

122 Bloch, o.c, p. 130; Thapar, o.c, p. 256. (Bloch's text and translation are 
followed here.) 

1 " The importance of the passage for both Asokan and Macedonian chronology 
has led to its being much discussed. For references see P. H. L. Eggermont, "The 
date of Asoka's rock edict XIII", Acta Or. XVIII, 1940, 103-23; "New notes on 
Asoka and his successors", Persica II, 1965-1966, 58 n. 97. 

124 Cf. Robert, CRAI 1964, 138-9. 



were in positions of power, and so, politically, their community was 
of less importance; but it is evident from the existence of the 
Aramaic inscriptions that they enjoyed their own measure of 
esteem; 125 and there is no reason to suppose that the frontiers which 
were so easily crossed by Hellenes (and other foreigners 126 ) would 
have been closed to them. The history of Zoroastrianism in Atro- 
patene at this time shows that the Zoroastrian love of going on 
pilgrimage flourished then as later; and so the strong probability is 
that seasonally, in periods of peace, Zoroastrians from Gandhara 
followed the highway south to Kandahar; and from there, joined by 
Arachosian pilgrims, travelled on into Iran, that is. to Drangiana, 
to perform their devotions at the sacred mountain by Lake 
Kasaoya, in pious expectation of the child who would one day be 
born there to save the world. Indeed this particular pilgrimage 
probably gained in importance at this epoch, when unbelievers 
ruled over Zoroastrians and the Evil Spirit clearly had much 
power, so that the coming of the Saosyant would have been 
ardently looked for. 127 

The Kambojas and Buddhism 

Although there is no evidence that Asoka was himself active in 
propagating Buddhism, his own adherence to it clearly created a 
situation favourable to its expansion. The Third Buddhist Council 
was held at Pataliputra during his reign, and monks of repute were 
then chosen to go out to various regions to spread knowledge of the 
Buddha's teachings. One was assigned to Kashmir and Gandhara, 
another to the region of the Yonas. 128 How effective these first 
missions were, or how rapidly Buddhism established itself in those 
parts, is not known. (The remains of a Buddhist monastery with its 
stupa have been found in Old Kandahar, but have still to be fully 
excavated and thereby securely dated. 129 ) The Aramaic versions of 

125 There is a reference in an inscription at Junagadh in west India to ayonaraja 
named Tusaspa, a governor of Asoka's, see D. C. Sircar, Select inscriptions 
bearing on Indian history and civilization, Calcutta 1942, p. 169, but there is no 
further evidence to shed light on this evidently distinguished man, characterized 
as a Hellene but with an apparently Iranian name, 

Among a number of special administrative boards at Pataliputra was one 
with the dnty of looking after the foreigners there, see V. Smith, Oxford History of 
India, 2nd ed.. 1921, 87-8; Thapar, o.c, pp. 113, 125. 

,2 ' See further below, p. 375. 

138 Lamotte, Histoire du bouddhisme indien, 330-2. 

129 See G. Fussman, "Notes sur la topographie de Fancienne Kandahar", Arts 
Asiatiques XIII, 1966, 37-8. 



Asokan edicts in Arachosia and Gandhara show that there were 
Zoroastrians in both regions linguistically fully equipped to debate 
with such missionaries; and it was there that Zoroastrianism first 
had to confront a proselytizing system of belief which, like itself, 
claimed to have a teaching for all the world. The message which 
each offered was very different, and the struggle between them was 
to last for centuries. It was in this north-west region that primitive 
Buddhism was gradually transformed into the Mahayana; and a 
number of scholars have thought it likely that Zoroastrianism, a 
salvation-faith with an ardent expectation of a redeeming saviour, 
made some contribution to this transformation, notably to the 
doctrine of the coming Buddha, the Maitreya. 130 

Reconquest by Hellenes 

The Mauryan empire declined after Asoka's death, and his 
successors were unable to keep possession of its outlying regions. At 
the beginning of the second century Bactrian Greeks under Demet- 
rius I (c. 200-185 B.C.) began to penetrate south of the Hindu- 
kush and succeeded in acquiring the Indo-Iranian border 
territories, including Gandhara and Arachosia. 131 The Hellenes of 
those regions thus came once more under the rule of fellow- 
Hellenes, while in the conquering forces (made up presumably of 
Greeks and Bactrians) the Kambojas would have met fellow- 
Iranians. How far the latter can be supposed to have been ortho- 
practic Zoroastrians will be considered in the next chapter; but 
they were the descendants of men who had not only lived for 
generations under Greek rule, but had also fought alongside 
Greeks, now against Seleucid armies, now against Parthians, now 
against nomads of the steppes; and these experiences may have 
broken down cultural barriers between them more effectively than 
seems to have been the case between Kambojas and Hellenes in 
Arachosia and Gandhara. 

Note on the Kuh-i Kkwaja in Drangiana 

Kuh-i Khwaja in Drangiana, "the basalt mountain that^ rises 
solitary and majestic out of the waters of the Hamun Lake' 1 


130 See with bibliography Lamotte, o.c, p. 783 ff. 

131 See below, p. 153. 

152 D. Faccena, "A new fragment of wall-painting from Ghaga Sahr" (Kuh- 
yvaga-SIstan, Iran), EW 1981, 31, 83. 





evidently a sacred place for Zoroastrians long before the faith was 
adopted by the magi of western Iran; 133 for the lake at its foot, given 
the Avestan name of Kasaoya, was seen as that where Zoroaster's 
own seed is guarded by divine beings, and where one day the 
Saosyant will be conceived — hence presumably the name of the 
mountain, "Mountain of the Lord". 134 The Kuh-i Khwaja, it is 
generally agreed, appears in the Young Avesta as Mount Usi&am; 
and as a "high place" by these holy waters it is likely to have 
attracted Zoroastrian pilgrims from far and wide already in the 
prehistoric period of the faith, and throughout Achaemenian 
times. 135 

Presumably Tor many generations these pilgrims simply went up 
the bare mountain to worship and pray on its summit, looking out 
over the sacred lake; but eventually a temple was built high up on 
its south-eastern flank, with below it what has been termed a 
palace. This was most probably the residence of the temple's high 
priest, who (given the sanctity of the place) is likely to have enjoyed 
wealth and authority to match that of the high priests of Zela and 
other great Zoroastrian shrines. Such structural developments 
appear to have taken place more slowly here, however, than in the 
west, and possibly neither temple nor palace was founded before 
the Parthian period. 136 A sizable town (whose ruins are known as 
Ghaga Shahr) grew up on the slopes below the palace; but in 
Seleucid times pilgrims, and those who came seasonally to supply 
and batten on them, may well simply have camped on the 
mountain-side and the plain around. In addition to those who may 
be presumed to have taken well-trodden pilgrim ways from Ara- 
chosia and Gandhara, others are likely to have come from Areia 
(Herat) and neighbouring Carmania (Kerman). Nor is it impossi- 
ble that during peaceful times the devout still made their way here 
from further afield — Persis and Media to the west, possibly even 

from parts of the western diaspora, and from Bactria and other 
lands to the north— maintaining a tradition established long before 
the coming of Alexander. Such gatherings would clearly have 
helped to strengthen community ties, transcending, even if briefly, 
the separation of the individual satrapies; and there seems no 
reason why the Macedonians should have objected to them, espe- 
cially since the local satrap would presumably have extracted his 
share of profit at the main pilgrimage seasons. 

As for the Zoroastrians of Drangiana, the existence of this great 
holy place doubtless contributed powerfully to the strength of their 
local tradition. Or this they were clearly immensely proud, claim- 
ing for it in due course a unique place in the history of the religion 
after the coming of Alexander. 137 The fame of the Kuh-i Khwaja 
itself caused it, it seems, to figure, as the Mons Victorialis, in the 
birth legends of Christ; 138 and still in early Islamic times, a Zoroas- 
trian text records, the Zoroastrians who lived round about sent 
their virgin daughters each year, at the holy days of No Ruz and 
Mihragan, to bathe in the lake there, in the hope that the time had 
come for the Saosyant to be conceived. 139 Evidence from the Sasa- 
nian period for a contribution from Seistan to the establishment 
then of the Avestan canon, and to the study of the holy texts, 140 
testifies to the strength of the Zoroastrian tradition in this region. 

133 Cf. HZ I 274 

134 This is one reason why Gnoli considers this area to have been part of the 
original homeland of the kavis, see latterly his ZTH, 129 ff. For a detailed attempt 
to demonstrate otherwise see Boyce, Zoroastrianism: its antiquity and chronic 
vigour, Columbia Lectures 1985, ed. E. Yarshater, Ch. I (to be published). 

135 Cf. (speculatively) HZ II 278-9. 

136 G. Gullini, Architettura iranica dagli Achemenidi ai Sasanidi. II "Palazzo" 
di Kuh-i Khwaja (Seistan), Turin 1964, argued for an Achaemenian origin for 
both palace and temple; but it is generally held that his conclusions in this respect 
were inadequately supported by evidence. See Schippmann, Feuerheiligtiimer, 
60-70; Faccena, art. cit., pp. 90-^1. There were temples in Drangiana in Achaeme- 
nian times, but that atDahan-i Ghulaman (cf. HZ II 128-30) cannot be regarded as 
Zoroastrian, and the reference in Curtius (above, pp. 4-5) is non-committal in this 

197 Cf. above, p. 16. 

139 SadcUrBundahes', 35.6; Dhabhar. ed., Bombay 1909, tr. Rivayats, 528. Text 
given also by Darmesteter, tt. in, II 209. In it the mountain is called by the 
variant name "Kuh-i Khoda" (with the same meaning). 

140 See above, pp. 123-4. 




(c. 250-50 B.C.) 

The political and geographical horizon 1 

In the middle of the third century the north-eastern provinces of 
Iran, thinking themselves neglected by the Seleucid kings, who 
were more and more absorbed by Mediterranean affairs, seceded 
under the leadership of their Hellenic satraps: Andragoras in 
Parthyene, Diodotus in Bactria. As early as 239/238 the former 
succumbed to an invasion by nomad Pami, who, adopting the 
name of their new country, founded the Parthian monarchy, and 
within a century were to reunite under their hegemony the lands of 
the Iranian plateau. To the east, however, Diodotus survived and 
assumed the royal diadem, founding the kingdom conventionally 
designated as "Greco-Bactrian". Some time between 230 and 227 
Seleucus II launched an expedition against the new eastern king- 
doms, both in his eyes equally rebellious; although Diodotus' son 
and successor had made common cause with the Parthians, Seleu- 
cus gained some initial success, but was soon recalled to the west by 
an Attalid attack in Asia Minor, Diodotus II was eventually killed, 
possibly in an outburst of Greek patriotism, and was replaced by 
Euthydemus > who was born in Magnesia-on-the-Maeander (or 
perhaps only his forbears originated from there). His long reign 
secured the consolidation of the kingdom. In 208 he had to face a 
new Seleucid attempt at reconquest: Antiochus III, more success- 
ful than his father, succeeded in blockading Euthydemus in Bactra; 

1 The classical but markedly divergent reconstructions proposed by W. W. 
Tam, GBI. and A. K. Narain, The Indo-Greeks, Oxford 1957, are now 
superseded (for the later period, 2nd-lst centuries B.C.) by O. Bopearachchi, 
Bibliotheque Nationale, Cabinet des Medailles, Catalogue des monnaies 
greco-bactriennes et indo-grecques, Paris 1991, whose chronology will be followed 
here. Some of the solutions he proposes had already been put forward by P. 
Bernard, Fouilles d'Ai Khanoum, IV: Les Monnaies hors tresors. Questions 
d'histoire greco-bactrienne (Mem. DAFA 28), Paris 1985. For the 3rd century the 
problem of the relations between Eastern Iran and the Seleucids are reexamined 
by Will, Hist, pol., I— II, in the relevant sections. 



but after two years of indecisive operations the Magnesian induced 
Antiochus to come to terms, by arguing that "considerable hordes 
of nomads were approaching, and this was not only a grave danger 
to both of them, but if they consented to admit them, the country 
would certainly relapse into barbarism" 2 . Antiochus recognized 
Euthydemus' royal title, against a formal submission; and this last 
Seleucid failure ushered in for Eastern Iran five hundred years of 
political independence. This was maintained through diverse vicis- 
situdes; and down to the Sasanians, apart from some temporary 
encroachments by the Parthians, no conqueror from the Iranian 
plateau was to venture on any move to end it. 

From the point of view of historical records, this breach with the 
West had the direst consequences. Thenceforth Central Asia es- 
capes notice almost entirely in the accounts which continued after a 
fashion to throw light on the periphery of the classical world. The 
Parthian History of Apollodorus of Artemita (lost, but used by 
Strabo) and the Philippic History of Trogus Pompeus (perhaps 
likewise derived from Apollodorus' work) treat the Greco-Bactrian 
kingdom as an appendage of the Parthian Empire, an appendage 
which is almost entirely ignored in the dry resume of Trogus which 
Justin has preserved for us. The gap has to be filled by numisma- 
tics, and, for a greater diversity of social groups, by archaeology — 
more actively pursued for these epochs in Central Asia than in 
Iran, but subject to all the risks of over-elaborate interpretation to 
which a lack of written material gives rise. 3 

The secession of Central Asia meant that regions which had 
known the early spread of Zoroastrianism were now politically cut 
off from their western brethren. When in the beginning of the 
second century Demetrius I, son of Euthydemus, followed by other 
dynasts emerging from Greek Bactria, penetrated south of the 
Hindukush and recovered the satrapies which Seleucus had surren- 
dered, the Greco-Bactrians re-united, to their own advantage, 
virtually all the "Aryan lands" celebrated in the Young Avesta 4 . 
To the west, Margiana and Aria appear to have been held by 

2 Polybius XI.39.5. For these events cf. above, pp. 2B 3 30. 

3 In general, archaeological references will here be given to primary publica- 
tions; but, as many Soviet books and journals are not easily accessible to Western 
readers, references to translations and review articles are made as often as 
possible. Names of sites published by Soviet excavators are kept in their Russian 
transcription. Plans of most sites in present-day Afghanistan (and of some individ- 
ual monuments) can be found in W. Ball, Archaeological Gazetteer of Afghanis- 
tan, Paris 1982. 

* HZ I 274-6; for the identification of countries south of the Hinduiuih add 
Gnoli, ZTH, 23-57. About the Ranha (the last name in the list of Vd.l), 





Greco-Bactrians down to the middle of that century. 5 The political 
vicissitudes in Seistan — one of the "holy lands" of Zoro 
astrianism 6 — remain more obscure, because of the lack of numisma- 
tic evidence. In the north, Sogdiana with the Zarafshan valley was 
affected before long by the thrust of the Saka peoples; but the 
Greeks firmly held the line of the Hissar range to the north of the 
Oxus 7 , keeping in their hands the five affluents which from here 
flow in a northeast-southwest direction (namely, following the 
course of the Oxus: the Kyzyl-su, the Vakhsh, the Kafirnigan, the 
Surkhan-darya with the large city of Termez at the confluence, and 
the Sherabad-darya) 8 . Lastly, Greco-Bactrians, expanding towards 
the south-east along the line of Alexander's conquests, established 
themselves more securely in the Panjab, and from there penetrated 
as far south as the Gujarat coast, pushing their raids into the 
Gangetic plain. The countries through which they passed on de- 
scending the Kabul valley, although Indian in civilization — if not 
always in language — had also left their mark in the missionary 
geography of Vendidad 1: Gandhara (Vaekereta), Buner (Varena), 
Panjab (Hapta Hendu); 9 and they had apparently kept something 
of their ancient legacy of Zoroastrianism, or had revived it when 
they were incorporated in the Achaemenian Empire. 10 

Bactria, remaining firmly under Greek control, still occupied 
a leading position within this group of lands, such as it had in fact 
held in the Achaemenian organization of the "upper 
satrapies' 1 — an organization which in its turn doubtless merely 
maintained a political structure that had already existed before the 

J. Kellens has argued convincingly in favour of a mythical interpretation, it being 
the river bounding the world ("Les bras de Mi6ra", in Mysteria Mithrae, ed. 
U. Bianchi, EPRO 80, Leiden 1979, 710-13). 

s To the references given in n. 1, add P. Daffina, LTmmigrazione dei Saka nella 
Drangiana (IsMEO Reports and Memoirs 9), Roma 1967, 38-9; D. W. MacDo- 
wall and M. Ibrahim, Afghan Studies 2, 1979, 46. 

6 See above, pp. 16, 123-4, 149-51. For Narain, o.c, Seistan probably 
belonged to the Greco- Bactrian kingdom, while Daffina remains uncommitted. At 
least under Eucratides the country was disputed (Justin XLI.6.3). 

7 Bernard, o.c, pp. 137-40, 166; E. V. Rtveladze, "La circulation monetaire au 
nord de l'Oxus a Tepoque greco-bactrienne", RN 26, 1984, 61-76. 

8 These valleys, which now form the southern part of Tajikistan and Uzbekis- 
tan, are considered by Soviet archaeologists as "Northern Bactria", a denomina- 
tion which reflects a linguistic and cultural situation documented at later periods, 
and which we shall follow here. It seems, however, that in the Greek period the 
administrative boundary between Bactria and Sogdiana was on the Oxus: see 
P. Bernard et H.-P. Francfort, Etudes de geographie historique sur la plaine d'A'i 
Khanoum (Afghanistan), Paris 1978, 68-9. 

9 Gnoli, ZTH, 47-8. For Vaekereta see earlier S. Levi, JA 1925, 67-9, for 
Varena W. B. Henning, BSOAS XII, 1947, 52-3. 

10 HZ II 279-80. 

Persian conquest." It was probably the supremacy exercised by 
Bactria at various moments in its history which was the basis for 
the traditions, attested later both in Greco-Roman works 12 and in 
the Iranian national epic (as this has come down to us), that this 
was the homeland of Zoroaster, or at least (as far as the Iranian 
traditions are concerned) of the Kayanian dynasty 13 . We cannot be 
certain that these claims (like those with regard to Seistan) were 
current in Bactria at the period under consideration, though this 
seems probable. We shall meet the same problem again with 
reference to the cult of the river Oxus. 

The assassination by his own son of the great king Eucratides (c. 
171-145), who had reunited most of the Greek possessions on both 
sides of the Hindukush, marked a turning-point. The Parthians 
under Mithradates I had already seized part of his western territo- 
ries. On the eastern fringe, the city of Ai* Khanum was immediately 
abandoned by its Greek settlers; in what was left of Bactria Greek 
power collapsed in dynastic discords, leaving room for the domina- 
tion of Saka tribes and the Yue-che 14 — the latter being the future 
founders of the Kushan empire. South of the Hindukush, Hellenic 

11 "In short, he [Apollodorus of Artemita] says that Bactria is the ornament of 
Ariana as a whole" (Strabo XI. 11.1), On the antiquity of Bactrian supremacy see 
Gnoli, ZTH, 91—6, and the Soviet archaeologists' point of view expounded by 
E. E. Kuz'mina, "The 'Bactrian Mirage' and the Archaeological Reality", E\V 
26, 1976, 111-31. Some reservations have recently been expressed by P. Briant, 
L'Asie centrale et les royaumes proche-orientaux du premier millenaire, Paris 
1984, 4-5-103. 

12 From the 2nd century A.C., Western tradition generally calls Zoroaster a 
"Bactrian", or even a "king of the Bactrians": so Kephalio, Theo, Justin, 
Arnobius, Ammianus Marcellinus. But all these accounts have their source in a 
corruption of a passage in Ctesias, where it is related how "Oxyartes" (in other 
mss. "Exaortes", "Xaortes", "Zaortes"), king of the Bactrians, was defeated and 
put to death by Semiramis during her legendary expedition (Frag. 1, ap. Dio- 
dorus, II. 5-6; F. W\ Konig, Die Persika des Ktesias von Knidos, Graz 1972, 
128). Thus Jackson, Zoroaster, 154-7, 186-8; BCM I 8-10; Konig, I.e., foot- 
note; Gnoli, ZTH. n. to p. 92. Nevertheless, the opinion prevails among Soviet 
scholars that the name "Zoroaster" was given by Ctesias, and that Diodorus (or 
his source) substituted "Oxyartes" because of Alexander's Bactrian adversary: see 
lastly B. A. Litvinskij and A. V. Sedov, Tepai-sax, 107. It appears extremely 
unlikely that Ctesias was able to gather at the Achaemenian court a tradition 
presenting Zoroaster as a king executed by Babylonians. A composite explanation 
which would make "Zoroaster" a gloss introduced by Ctesias himself does not 
carry more conviction (I. V. P'jankov, Srednjaja Azija v izvestijax anticnogo 
istorika Ktesija, Dushanbe 1975, 151—8). 

13 References in Jackson, Zoroaster, 199, 208-18. All these sources, none 
antedating Tabari, probably stem from the late Sasanian redaction of the 
Kkwaday-namag (F. Gretiet, "Bactria {Baxbis) in the Avesta and in Zoroastrian 
Tradition", EIr. Ill, 343-4). 

'* See lastly P. Bernard, "Les nomades conquerants de 1'empire greco-bactrien: 
reflexions sur leur identite ethnique et culturelle", CRAI 1987, 758-68. 



kingdoms (known thereafter as "Indo-Greek" but possibly 
strengthened by the support of native Bactrians who had made 
common cause with the Greeks) lasted until c.70 B.C. in Arachosia 
and Kapisa (the Kabul region), and for two decades more in 
Gandhara and Taxila 15 ; and it is in these regions, on coins of the 
last kings, that representations of the Olympian gods finally yield 
just a little of their monopoly in order to make room for Iranian 

Greeks and Iranians in Central Asia 

The successful secession of the Greeks of Bactria, their long 
survival after the Parthian expansion had cut them off from their 
western bases, and their conquering dynamism, all force one to 
assume a certain measure of accord between them and their Ira- 
nian subjects; this has indeed been often affirmed. 16 There is no 
doubt that the Greek migrants were more numerous here than on 
the Iranian plateau, as is attested by the many foundations of 
towns with Greek-sounding names recorded in the geographers* 
lists; 17 but the flow of settlers must have decreased after 250, and 
the Greeks were never more than a tiny minority of this populous 
land of ancient irrigation. The indispensable intermediaries be- 
tween the new conquerors and the mass of the native population 
were the landed gentry — masters of the fine cavalry which had 
inflicted so much harm on Alexander, but which in 208 stood by 
Euthydemus in his resistance to Antiochus III. 18 The Greek power 
unquestionably declared itself a foreign one, and the coin issues, 
while attesting numerous usurpations and dynastic quarrels, do not 
concede a place to a single petty king with an Iranian name; and 
since in general only those queens were depicted, it seems, who 
reinforced the Greek dynastic claims of son or husband, we do not 
know whether the Greco- Bactrians followed Alexander's and Se- 
leucus' example in marrying into the Bactrian aristocracy. 
Nonetheless, this alien power provided its Iranian subjects with a 
share in profitable campaigns of conquest. As for internal affairs, it 
secured the defence of the sedentary world against the menace from 

15 The last Greek kingdom lingered in East Panjab until the beginning of the 
Christian era (see Bopearachchi, o.c. in n. 1). 

'^E.g. Tarn, GBI, 124-5. 

17 Listed conveniently in H.-P. Francfort, Les fortifications en Asie centrale 
de l'Age du Bronze a l'epoque kouchane, Paris 1979, 27. 

15 Polybiua X.4-9. 



the steppes 19 , and concerned itself with expanding the area under 
cultivation 20 — in short, assumed functions which devolved upon a 
ruler according to the Zoroastrian ideal. 

The excavations at Ai Khanum, a metropolis founded by either 
Alexander or Seleucus in eastern Bactria, on the bank of the Oxus, 
and rebuilt in a grander style by Eucratides, have not only pro- 
vided data that are in a strict sense religious; they have also allowed 
us to perceive the general spirit governing contacts between the 
colonists and the local people. 21 It emerges that the influences 
exerted by the former on the latter, although manifold, were limited 
in the main to technical and cultural matters. It is true that in 
monumental architecture all that was kept from Greece was a 
veneer of pillars and decorative elements, while the building ma- 
terials (mostly unbaked brick) and types of structural plans re- 
mained those of the local masons {who already had long experience 
of erecting imposing edifices); but in the linguistic, intellectual and 
artistic spheres the situation appears very different. Aramaic was 
retained for certain purposes, but Greek took precedence as the 
administrative language, 22 and this so effectively that, alone among 
the former Achaemenian satrapies, Bactria kept the Greek al- 
phabet when later its own Iranian language came to be written 
down, 23 In the gymnasium the latest discoveries of Greek astro- 
nomy were taught, newly enriched by contact with Babylonian 
science; and this heritage was transmitted to India, where later the 
Sasanians had to go to seek it. 24 A papyrus discovered in the palace 

19 After a nomad attack in c. 290 B.C. the defences of the northern iron tier were 
restored and reinforced by Antiochus I (Pliny VI. 47-49). See also Euthydemus 
words to Antiochus III al Bactra (above, p. 153). 

w J.-C. Gardin et B. Lyonnet, "La prospection archeologique de la Baclnane 
orientale: premiers resultais", Mesopotamia 13-14, 1978-9, esp. pp. 137 7 9 

21 7 volumes of the final report Fouilles d'Ai Khanoum (Mem. DATA, Paris) have 
to date appeared under the direction of Paul Bernard. See also the illustrated 
annual reports published first by D. Schlumberger, then by Bernard, CRAI 
1965-1980; and Bernard's synthetic article "Problemes d'histoire colomale 

grecque a travers l'urbanisme d'une cite hellenistique d'Asie centrale", in 150 
Jahre Deutsches Archaologisches Institute Mainz 1979, 108-20. 

22 C Rapin, "Les inscriptions economiques de la tresorerie hellenistique d Ai 
Khanoum (Afghanistan)", BCH 107-1, 1983, 315-72. Some officials in the 
Greek financial adminis t ration — not the highest ones, it must be admitted — bore 
Iranian names: F. Grenet, "L'Onoruastique iranienne a Ai' Khanoum'', same 
volume, pp. 373-81. 

13 The preservation of the Babylonian calendar with Macedonian month-names 
is perhaps less significant, as the Arsacids themselves used this calendar in their 
official documents in Greek (Le Rider, Suse, 33-43). 

2 * S. Veuve, "Cadrans solaires greeo-bactriens a AT Khanoum (Afghanistan) , 
BCH 106-1, 19B2. 23-51; id., Fouilles d'AT Khanoum, VI: Le Gymnast (Mem, 
DAFA 30), 1987, '86-91. 


of Ai' Khanum proves that the writings of the school of Aristotle 
were read there. 35 The prestigious creations of Greek art were 
reproduced and circulated in the most varied forms and materials. 
We have few indications — many fewer than in India — of a genuine 
curiosity on the part of the colonists with regard to the local 
culture; but it is known that, under Seleucus, Clearchus of Soli, the 
disciple of Aristotle, who, loyal to his master's teachings, inquired 
into Oriental religions, and in particular into that of the magi, 
stayed at Ai' Khanum, where he left a copy of Delphic maxims. 26 
Much better attested is the manifest desire of the Greeks to spread 
their own intellectual culture beyond their community, and the 
apparent receptivity of one stratum of the local population to this 
culture. A testimony to this, still at A'i Khanum, is provided by the 
huge size of the gymnasium there— the largest in the Greek 
world — and of the theatre, which could accommodate 6000 specta- 
tors; all the evidence suggests that such buildings greatly exceeded 
in capacity the needs of the colonial population. Hence one may 
assume a well-developed symbiosis between the conquering Greek 
minority and at least a part of the indigenous elite, bringing about 
the formation of an original civilization, to which (for us, making a 
rough analysis) it seems that the former contributed by its adminis- 
trative techniques and intellectual brilliance, the latter by the 
control of the land and its inhabitants. 

One modern author has gone so far to speak of the "birth of a 


C. Rapin, "Les textes litteraires grecs de la tresorerie d'Ai Khanoi 
Ul-I, 1987, 225-66. 

26 L. Robert, CRAI 1968, 421-57; reproduced in Fouilles d'AI Khanoum I 
(Mem. DAFA 21), 1973, 211-37, The works of Clearchus have survived only- 
through quotations. He is known in particular for having shown interest in 
oriental religions and having evolved a theory that the Magi had been the spiritual 
masters of the Gymnosophists (the Brahman ascetics), who in turn taught the 
Jews: see Robert, o.c, pp. 447-54-, 229-35; also BCM I 18-19. An interesting 
piece of information transmitted by Diodorus (1.94.2) may be relevant here: 
"Thus it is recorded that among the Arians Zathraustes claimed that the Good 
Spirit gave him his laws". It is generally agreed that this information has not 
passed through the usual Western channels, but has been gathered directly from a 
good source (as "Zathraustes" is an independent rendering of Avestan zam&uslra, 
and the words ton agatkon daimona prospoiesasthai torn nomous faithfully express the 
revelation of the divine "law" {data) by Spenta Mainyu or Vohu Manah). G. 
Gnoli (Ricerche storiche sul Sistan antico, 57-63; ZTH, 136-4*) ascribes the 
information to inquiries carried out in the aftermath of Alexander's conquest by 
either Megasthenes or Hecataeus of Abdera; but one might well consider instead 
Clearchus, who alone is expressedly recorded as having given precedence to 
Zoroaster in the transmission of revelation. (Gnoli's proposed correction of Arianoi 
into Ariaspoi—ti\t name of a Seistanic tribe— is in line with this author's Seistan- 
centred conception of the origins of Zoroastrianism, but has onlv a slender basis in 
the mss.) 



nation" 27 , a definition which can be accepted if one bears in mind 
that this "nation" was socially limited. The process appears to 
have some analogy with that which was to take place in the same 
area during the eighth-ninth centuries A.C, in a comparable 
historical context: intensive urbanization, early emancipation of 
government from a remote central power, military dynamism 
against nomadic pressure (the Turks having by then replaced the 
Sakas). The hellenization of Iran was nowhere as successful as in 
Bactria, and, similarly, the Persian Muslim civilization was to 
crystallize in Khurasan and Transoxiana, whereas on the Iranian 
plateau the local and conquering populations appear in both cases 
to have maintained their respective particularism for a longer 
time. 28 

Yet the bulk of Bactria's inhabitants, particularly in the rural 
districts, was certainly hardly affected by the new cultural contacts. 
The circumstances of Ai" Khanum's end shed some light in this 
respect. After the town had been abandoned by the Greeks, it was 
re-occupied by squatters from among the country people round 
about (the presence of nomadic newcomers, although documented, 
appears to have been short-lived and limited in numbers 29 ). These 
squatters were capable of collective organization — they re-dug the 
channel which brought water into the town, and set up big 
demolition yards — .but they showed a total indifference to the 
attractions of Greek urban life, turning all A'i Khanum's monu- 
ments to use as quarries, workshops or farm-houses. A still more 
significant fact is they did not spare even the town's main temple, 
although it was devoted to syncretic cults which had a local 
component. Lastly, the burning of the palace can only be explained 
as symbolic of hostility towards the memory of dominance by the 
Greeks, all the indications being that the latter had cared little 
about these people, beyond making sure that they provided the 
work-force needed to fulfil the Hellenistic policy of engaging on vast 
undertakings. 30 On these grounds one may therefore suppose that it 

27 Will, Hist, pol., I 286. 

23 Cf. R- N. Frye, "Comparative Observations on Conversion to Islam in Iran 
and Central Asia" t Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 4, 1984, 81-8. 

29 B. Lyonnet, "Les nomades et la chute du royaume greco-bactrien' 1 , forth- 
coming in Histoire et cultes de l'Asie centrale preislamique, ed. P. Bernard et F. 
Grenet, Paris. 

30 G. Fussman, **Le renouveau iranien dans l'empire kouchan". in Le Plateau 
iranien et l'Asie centrale, ed, J. Deshayes, Paris 1977, 313-22, For a gloomy 
picture of the fate of the indigenous rural populations in the Seleueid realm as a 
whole see P. Briant, "Colonisation hellenistique et populations indigenes. La 
phase d'installation". Klio 1978, 57-92. 



was among these country people, ignored in the process of helleni- 
zation, that Zoroastrianism had the best chance of being main- 
tained in its most traditional form. 

The religious policy of the Greek kings according to their coinage* 1 

In a rhetorical passage, Plutarch states that "thanks to Alexan- 
der, Bactria and the Caucasus (i.e. the Hindukush) learnt to 
venerate the gods of the Greeks". 32 That such was the Greco- 
Bactrian kings' intention is clearly shown by the images which they 
chose for their superb coins. During the two centuries which were 
to follow independence purely Greek types reigned, with no alien 
companions: 33 Zeus, Athene, Heracles, Apollo, Artemis, Poseidon, 
Hermes, Nike, to whom Eucratides the conqueror added the Dios- 
curi charging with lowered lance. The Tyches with turreted 
crowns, protectresses of various towns, are conjoined a little later 
into the Tyche of the realm, who wears the polos on her head and 
carries a cornucopia. 34 This type was to be taken over on Kushan 
coins and sculpture to represent the great goddess Asi (ARDOXSO). 
Ares makes a tardy appearance, 35 and Hephaistos, god of fire, is to be 
found somewhat later on Indo-Scythian coins. 35 Although this is 
not attested on the coins, certain Near Eastern divinities who were 
popular in the Hellenistic world shared in Bactria the fortunes of 
the Greek gods. Proof of this is to be found for Sarapis 37 and for 
Anatolian Cybele 38 ; but it is not possible to tell how far it was 

References to coin types are given here according to M. Mitchiner, Indo- 
Greek and Indo-Scythian Coinage (the most complete catalogue now in existence, 
although its historical commentary is to be rejected). The only attempt at a 
general religious analysis of the coinage, by M.-T. Allouche-Le Page, L'art 
monetaire des royaumes bactriens, Paris 1956, is to be used with extreme caution. 

™ De Alexandri Magni Fortuna aut Virtute, 328 D (Moralia, ed. Loeb, IV, pp. 

The only exceptions for this period are on the Indian side of the Greek 
possessions, where coins of the kings Agathocles and Pantaleon (c. 190-180 B.C.) 
show the first known depictions of Hindu deities, as well as some possibly 
Buddhist symbols; they are also the only ones which use the type of Dionysus, a 
choice which most probably alludes to the city of Dionysiopolis (near present-day 
Jalalabad), where Alexander's army encountered a local cult of a wine-god: see 
R, Audoin et P, Bernard, "Tresor de monnaies indiennes et indo-grecques d'Ai 
Khanoum (Afghanistan). II: Les monnaies indo-grecques", RN 16, 1974, 6-41. 
■ 34 Mitchiner, vol. Ill, types 344-5, 386, 439-40; also R. Curiel et G. Fussman, 
Le Tresor monetaire de Qunduz (Mem. DAFA 20), Paris 1965, 67 with Pis. 
LII-LIII. On the Tyche of Begram in Kapisa see K. W. Dobbins, EW 20, 1970 

" Type of the walking warrior: Mitchiner, II 303-4; III 378, 452. 

3G Mitchiner, VI 844 (Azes II). 

37 F. Grenet, St. Ir. 11, 1982, 155-7. 

38 Below, pp. 167, 171 with n. 86. 



colonists who (thanks to the movement of populations in the 
Seleucid period) had come from places where these two were 
worshipped who were responsible for their introduction. Babylo- 
nian Nana (or Nanaia) had undoubtedly reached Central Asia 
before this; we shall be discussing her ease later, since it is indissol- 
ubly linked with that of Anahit. 

These divine representations, which were multiplied both in the 
temples and on objects of daily use, must have had a considerable 
impact, reinforced by the absence in those regions of an indigenous 
religious iconography. Their influence on Zoroastrian imagery 
should have been even more lasting there than in western Iran, and 
their destinies can indeed be traced down to Sogdian funerary 
caskets of the seventh century A.C. It is significant that all the 
divinities who appear on the Greco-Bactrian coins are, without 
exception, attested long after the downfall of Greek power by their 
iconographic types, if not by their own names. 39 

This leads us to the crucial question: how did the peoples of 
eastern Iran perceive these images from a foreign pantheon? Of 
their attitude we know nothing with certainty except at the final 
stage, that is, in the second century A.C., when it was at last 
decided to put names in the local language to the divinities shown 
on the coins of the Kushan kings. Almost all these then bear the 
names of Zoroastrian jazatas. The landmarks are lacking for us to 
be able to trace the process of identification, but it seems not to 
have been completely achieved even at this late moment: thus 
Heracles was to remain ERAKILO, distinct from Verethraghna 
(ORLAGNO), to whom, however, he had been assimilated for 
some two hundred years in the Iranian West, 40 while certain 
yazatas' names were to provide labels for beings who clearly be- 
longed essentially to the Greek religion (e.g. OANINDO-Nike). 
Thus it would be plainly too schematic to infer a direct and simple 
distribution of classical iconographic types among the beings of the 
Avestan pantheon, even if the general tendency was in this direc- 

Is it possible to catch a glimpse of this process already under way 

39 See HZ IV. Neither Dionysus nor the Dioscuri are found again on Kushan 
coins, but Dionysus is depicted on jewels from the royal necropolis of Tillja-tepe 
(V. Sarianidi, Bactrian Gold, Leningrad 1985, 50-2 with ill. pp. 132-5) and on 
later silver plates (Dalton, Treasure of the Oxus, nr. 196, PI. XXVII); on the 
Dioscuri in Gandharan art see G. Gnoli, EW 14, 1963, 29-37. 

** See above, pp. 62-5, 93-4 and below, pp. 323-4, 330. All the evidence on 
Heracles in Central Asia is gathered by P. Bernard et G.-P. Jullien, "Haltcres 
votives de lutteurs dans le Gandhara", St. Ir. 11, 1982, 43-4; also G. A. 
Pugacenkova, "Gerakl v Baktrii", VDI 1977/2, 77-92. 



in certain details of the divine representations on Greco-Bactrian 
coins? Some of the evidence which has been adduced in support of 
this possibility is not convincing, but some deserves further consid- 
eration. Certain bronze coins of Demetrius I (c.20G-190 B.C.) 
show an Artemis Huntress with her head surrounded by a nimbus 
of long rays; and in this has been seen the influence of Anahit, more 
precisely of the cult statue of that goddess which had existed at 
Bactra from the time of Artaxerxes II. 41 This identification rests 
chiefly on the description in Yt. 5. 126-8, in which there was 
thought to be mention of "eight rays"; but in fact it is a question 
there of a headdress in "eight tiers" 42 . It is to the Mesopotamian 
type of Ishtar-Nana that the Anahits of Western Iran owe their 
rays, 45 and this may have been the case also with the Bactrian cult 
statue. But even this modified hypothesis is not indispensable for 
interpreting the Artemis of Demetrius: her rays could just as weLl 
be owed to a development proper to the character of the Greek 
goddess herself, who in the Hellenistic epoch was assimilated more 
and more to the moon-goddess Selene, through symmetry with her 
twin brother Apollo-Helios. 

The latter is represented on the coins of king Plato (an ephemeral 
successor to Eucratides). Radiate and driving a quadriga, he 
conforms to his Hellenistic image. Yet the composition has already 
evolved towards the heraldic type which was to remain common to 
Indian Surya and Iranian Mithra represented in his solar aspect: 
the god is shown fron tally, in a chariot schematically indicated by a 
hand-rail, with the horses separating symmetrically. 44 On a second 
issue of the same king another representation of Apollo, standing. 

Mitchiner, I 109. The idemificaLion with the "Anahita of Bactra" was upheld 
by Tarn, GBI, 29, 115; K. V. Trever, Pamjatniki greko-baktrijskogo iskusstva, 
Moscow-Leningrad 1940, 21; A. Foucher, La vieille route, II 266; Allouche-Le 
Page, o.c. in n. 31, pp, 1 12-14, It is expounded with some reservations by Narain, 
o.c. in n. 1 , p. 19, and rejected by G. A. Fugacenkova in Kruglikova-Pugacenkova, 
Dil'berdzin II, 100-1. Clemen (Nachrichten, 133 sq,), followed by C. Colpe 
("Altiranische uud Zoroastrische Mythologie", in Worterbuch der Mythologie, 
ed. H. W. Haussig, IV, Stuttgart 1982, 280), wrongly attributed to Eucratides 
coins of the post-Greek chieftain Sapadbizes bearing the legend li Nana' : with the. 
image of a lion. An alleged type of the "radiated Heracles" has been dismissed by 
P. Bernard (JdS 1979, 244-5). 

" The first translation of asta-kaozda, suggested adsensum by Darmesteter (ZA II 
396 n. 160), has been accepted by almost all scholars dealing with the iconography 
of the goddess. The correct one is given by H. W. Bailey, Dictionary of Khotan 
Saka, s.v. } kusda "mansion, palace" (the homophon 2 kuf<fa < *hac£da- "hole" 
would give a less satisfactory meaning). 

* 3 See HZ II 204; and below, p. 227, 

44 Mitchiner, I 197-8. The rich posterity of this iconograpbic pattern had 
already been stressed by E. Herzfeld, AMI 2, 1930, I3l. 



sceptre in hand and clad in tunic and long cloak, prefigures very 
closely the youthful Mithra of the Kushan coins. 45 

Clearer in its syncretic intention is the evolution which under the 
following kings affected the type of Zeus. From the reign of Helio- 
cles I (c.l 45-130) he too received rays, 46 an attribute which is not 
customary for the Olympian, and which in the rare cases when it is 
accorded him indicates assimilation to a non-Greek solar god 47 . 
More significant changes appear under Amyntas and Hermaeus, 
two of the last Greek kings of Arachosia-KapLsa-Gandhara 
(c.95-70): an Iranian horseman's cap, the tiara — to be adapted as 
the "Phrygian cap" in the iconography of western Mithra — 
appears on the head of "Zeus" enthroned. 48 It can be seen in detail, 
with tip bent forward, back edge covering the nape, and side-flaps 
falling over the cheeks, on the bronze coins whose obverse shows 
the bust of the god, bearded and radiate: his ethnic connection is 
now clearly proclaimed. 49 These are the very first representations 
known of Mithra, earlier by several decades than those created by 
the sculptors of Nimrud Dagh at the other end of the Iranian world, 
with rays springing similarly from a high cap. 50 

The flexibility of religious policy attested by these coins may be 

45 Mitchiner, I 199; see A. D. H. Bivar, "Milhraic Images of Bactria: are they 
related to Roman Mithraism?". in Mysteria Mithrae, o.c. in n. 4, esp. pp. 742-3 
with PI. III. It has been alleged that ihe solar and lunar divinities on coins of the 
Indo-Greek king Telephus (Taxila, c. 70 B.C.) were already Mithra and Mah, 
who were to be depicted similarly standing together on Kushan coins: Tarn. GBI, 
333 n. 4; Allouche-Le Page, o.c. in n. 31, p. 121. But the seemingly female 
appearance of the lunar divinity suggests that she is Artemis-Selene rather than 
the Irauian moon-god. 

46 Mitchiner, II 285-6 (Hcliocles I), 288-93 (Heliocles II, not distinguished 
from his namesake in this catalogue), 273, 275—7 (Antialcidas); III 355—64 
(Archebius), 385 (Amyntas). The modified Zeus appears on coins bearing Indian 
legends (issued for the regions south of the Hindukush) as well as on those with 
Greek legends (minted, it is supposed, especially for commercial or tributary 
relations with lost Bactria). 

47 A. B. Cook, Zeus. A Study in Ancient Religion, I, Cambridge 1914 (repr. 
New York 1 964), 194, who was also the first to stress the significance of this detail 
on the Greek coinage of Eastern Iran (note at page cited). Also E. I. Newell, ANS 
Notes and Monographs 82, I938, 89-92; Bivar, art. cit. in n. 45. 

48 Mitchiner, III 409-17. This type was continued at Taxila by the Pamirian 
Saka intruder Maues. c. 90-75 B.C. (Mitchiner, V 701, 712-13). then by the 
Greeks Telephus and Hippos trat us, C- 75-50 B.C. (Mitchiner, III 452-3, 
449-50). On most of these issues the god makes a benedictory gesture with his 
right hand (a design which Newell, o,c, wrongly interpreted as a compass 
indicating Mithra's function of "measurer of time by years"); on those of Hippo- 
stratus he holds a ribboned crown or a ring. Both motives are later found with the 
Kushan Mithra. 

49 Mitchiner, III 396-7, 416-7. 

50 Below, pp. 323, 324-6. 





partly explained through what is known of the kings who issued 
them. Heliocles, son of Eucratides, was the last Greek to reign in 
Bactra. His successors were to maintain to the south of the Hindu- 
kush a kingdom reduced to defending itself against the Sakas, who 
exerted pressure from both the Pamir and Seistan. Faced by these 
Iranian adversaries, they might have felt the need to call on the 
loyalty of their own Iranian or Iranianized subjects, who were 
probably numerous in the western provinces of their realm. In the 
eyes of these people, the representation of a clearly recognizable 
Mithra should have given a new resonance to the titles of "victori- 
ous" and "saviour" with which Amyntas and Hermaeus adorned 
themselves. Moreover, one should not exclude the possibility that 
these late kings adhered sincerely to some of the local cults : at the 
same epoch Heliodorus, ambassador of Antialcidas to an Indian 
king, proclaimed in an inscription his affiliation to the sect of 
Vishnu. 51 

The fact that Mithra was finally to emerge with the traits of Zeus 
enthroned goes against what is known for western Iran, where Zeus 
is regularly assimilated to Ahura Mazda, while Mithra has for his 
regular counterparts the youthful Apollo or Helios. In the third- 
fourth centuries A.C. the Kushano-Sasanian coins were again to 
show a Mithra (MIIRO) enthroned, bearded, often furnished with 
rays, and with leaping flames indicating the royal khvarenak 52 : here 
he is the only male divinity represented investing the king, whereas 
in Sasanian Iran this role is divided between him and Ahura 
Mazda. Some scholars have wished to see in this a proof of the 
non-Zoroastrian character of the local religion, as remaining basi- 
cally an Iranian polytheism with Mithra in supreme position. 53 It 
must be emphasized, however, that the development was not 
uniform : the youthful type of Mithra-Helios was also taking shape 
on the issues of king Plato (see above), and this was to be the one 
retained by the Kushans. Moreover, those attributes of Zeus which 
were given preference by the engravers of the last Bactrian Greeks 
were quite as suitable as Helios' quadriga for awakening Mithraic 
associations : Zeus carrying the symbols of martial victory (iYike, 
Athene, the palm); and Zeus brandishing a thunderbolt, which 

in n. I, pp. 1 18-20. 

cit., pp. 745-6 with Pis V-VII; 

3 Narain, o.c. 

52 Bivar, art. cit., pp. 745-6 with Pis V-VII; M. Carter, "A Numismatic 
Reconstruction of Kushano-Sasanian History". ANS Notes and Monographs 39, 
1985, 227-9 and 236-8, figs. 1, 10, 37, 38. 

53 JBivar, an. cit,, pp. 741, 743, who proposes to see here a survival of the 
"Median religion"; similar remarks by J. Duchesne-Guillemin in the same vol- 
ume, p. 750; but see below, p. 471 ff. 

could evoke Mithra's m*™, at once club and bolt, with its 
hundred bosses and hundred blades, a feller of men as he bran- 
dishes it . . . cast of yellow metal, strong and golden (Yt. lU.yb). 
Lastly, this act of iconographic annexation by Mithra in the 
Iranian East was perhaps the reflection of a reluctance there to give 
Ahura Mazda a fixed plastic form, especially that of an alien, god 
An indication that this was so is to be found in the instability ot 
images of Ahura Mazda on the Kushan coins, which have nothing 
in common with each other except a symbolism of sovereignty. 

It is difficult to decide between these different hypotheses, given 
the positive fact that Mithra was assimilated to the supreme god ot 
the Greeks- but at least they demonstrate that one should guard 
against judging the structure of the native pantheon solely on the 
basis of what the conquerors chose to honour in it. 

The archaeological evidence: the covered temples 

Archaeology has only recently made its contribution to knowl- 
edge of Greco-Bactrian religious life, supplying information which 
has proved rather unexpected. Since 1968 six temples going back to 
the period have been excavated, completely or partially : none has 
the aspect of a Greek temple. The building material was local 
unbaked brick, the four covered temples which we shall consider 
first had flat roofs, and their ground plans followed designs which 
were either Iranian or derived from the Near East. The interpreta- 
tion of the cults is in every case complex, even though in two 
instances we can put a name to the main divinity worshipped. 

The chief temple of Ai Khanum stands in the lower town. Its 
courtyard is bounded on the western side by the edge of a natural 
terrace overlooking the palace, and on the others by rows of rooms; 
and on the east it opens by a covered porch on to the avenue 
separating it from the slopes of the acropolis 56 . The main structure, 

54 Tr M Bovcc, Sources, 29 (slightly differently Gershevitch, AHM, 121). As i in 
the case of India's vajra the mariial and natural images are here conflated 
(Gershevitch, o.c, p. 33; Duchesne-Guillemin, Rel 37) mo/DOOANO 

55 J. M. Rosenfield, Dynastic Arts of the Kushans * 82 "\>^^n7 nrv 
"Mazda-V.ctory (?)": Kushan rider on a bicephahc horse; OOROMOZDO. 
sianding bearded man with long mantle and possibly polos on his head, holding 
diademed scepcre (or spear). "It is pebble that this imagery had been subject 
to something of the same iconic hesitancy as was the Buddha s, and that ihe Less 
exalted elements of the pantheon would be more congenial to the somewhat 
secular milieu of the coinage" (I.e.). 

5B P Bernard, CRAl 1969, 327-55; 1970, 317-47; 1971, 414-31; 19,4 295-S. 
A synthesis on the temple's architecture is given m his comprehensive article Les 


isolated at the farther end of the courtyard, is a square building (20 
by 20 m.). From its earliest phase, seemingly dating from the reign 
of Seleucus, only the remains of the plinth and of a mud-brick altar 
have been preserved under later masonry, and it is not even certain 
whether the shrine was covered at that stage. The building which 
has come down to us is a reconstruction, still belonging to the 
Seleucid period. The shrine was then set on a three-stepped po- 
dium that raises it 1.50 m. above the ground. An oblong vestibule 
runs the whole length of the building and opens at its centre into 
the cella, from which on each side a long passage gives access to a 
narrow sacristy. The outer walls are enlivened by a series of 
indented niches, which give the temple its accepted name (the 
"Temple a niches indentees", "Temple a redans" in the earlier 
publications). It has been convincingly established that this is a 
hybrid design". The interior plan bears the marks of Neo- 
Babylonian temple architecture, which remained in favour in Me- 
sopotamia down to the Parthian period. Designs like this could 
have reached the east through Seleucid unification; or perhaps they 
were brought there even earlier, if Achaemenian temples to Ana hit 
(of which we know almost nothing 58 ) had, like other manifestations 
of that goddess's cult, taken from the sphere of Babylonian religion 
what Iranian tradition could not supply; but, apart from the second 
temple at Ai Khanum (see below), and the later Heracles' temple 
at Masjed-i Solaiman 59 , we still lack landmarks to show how much 
popularity this model enjoyed on the Iranian plateau. As for the 
stepped podium— different from a Greek-type krepis in that the 
steps were not meant to be ascended— that is a local peculiarity; it 
reproduces the look of the cultic terraces open to the sky which will 
be discussed below. Its appearance was modified, however, later 
on, when the steps were enclosed by vertical brickwork. From the 
very beginning, a modest chapel with two wooden columns in antis 
on Achaemenian-type bases stood on the southern side of the 
courtyard; it was eventually replaced by a new one built on the 
opposite side, with a pronaos wider than the cella (a feature of 



traditions onentales dans 1'architecture greco-bactrienne", JA 1976 266-73 
Jinal publication of the objects by H.-F. Francfort, FouiJles d'Ai Khanoum HI 1 
Le sanctuaire du temple a niches indents, 2: Les objets (Mem. DAFA XXVII) 
t-aris J98+. All the published information is conveniently put together by S 
a. Downey, Mesopotamian Religious Architecture, Princeton 1988, 65-73 For a 
detailed discussion of the nature of the cult see F. Grcnet, "Mithra an temple 
principal d Ai Khanoum?", forthcoming in Bernard-Grenet (eds.), o.c. in n 29 

Bernard., Les traditions orientales . . . 
* See HZ II 218-19, and above, pp. 90-1. 

Ghirshinan, Terraces szcrecs, I, 90-1; II, plans IV and VIII. 

possible Macedonian origin) and bases of Greek type. 

To this same final phase, when a wish seems manifest to give a 
certain Hellenistic touch to the whole complex, belongs the cult- 
statue of the cella, a colossal acrolith in pure Greek tradition. It was 
violently destroyed when Greek power collapsed in the city, and 
only some of its stone parts have been recovered 60 : fragments of 
both hands, and a foot, which show the statue to have been two or 
three times life-size. As the foot wears a sandal adorned with the 
image of a thunderbolt, the god is clearly to be identified as a Zeus, 
who was probably seated on the solid baked-brick bench built 
along the back wall (for the cella was too shallow to provide a good 
view of a standing statue of such proportions). He held presumably 
a sceptre in his left hand (as the fingers were bent around some 
added object). But the existence of an outer chapel indicates that he 
was not the only divinity to be worshipped within the temple 

Caution is needed in using the abundant material excavated in 
various parts of the temple, because some of it has proved to come 
from plunder taken from the palace by the post-Greek squatters; 
but it is hardly to be doubted that for the most part it represents the 
remains of furnishings and offerings accumulated in the sanctuary 
during its 150 years of existence. Apart from some cultic figurines 
made by local craftsmen (see further below) , the two objects of 
greatest religious significance relate to female divinities modelled 
by the processes of Greek art, but on metal plaques intended most 
probably as cultic tokens (semeia), such as are known in Syria and 
Mesopotamia: one of them shows the face of a goddess on a lunar 
crescent 61 , the other the procession of Gybele facing outward on her 
chariot drawn by lions 62 . The latter image at least, though closely 
inspired by north Syrian models, seems to have been made locally, 
as an identical fragment has been found in the Takht-i Sangin 
temple 63 ; but nothing in these objects suggests an effort to adapt the 
iconography to Iranian concepts; in particular, the crescent moon 
is female, which is not the case with Iranian Mah. 

Devotions were offered at several mud-brick altars built into the 
interior of the cella, and on top of the stepped plinth; other 
altars — or perhaps rather offering tables — stood in the courtyard. 
The numerous small pedestals of dressed stone which have been 

60 Bernard, CRAI 1969, 338-41. 

61 Francfort, o.c, pp. 57-8. 

62 lb., pp. 93-104; also Bernard, CRAI 1970, 339-17. 

63 On which see below, pp. 1 73-9; the Takht-i Sangin fragment is described by 
I. R. Pichikyan, Arxeologiceskic otkrytija 1985 goda, Moscow 1987, 618. 




found almost everywhere in the town, but most abundantly in the 
temple, have been identified as bases for thymiateria, little metal 
burners meant to receive offerings of incense, grain, liquids . . . 64 . 
Such objects had served as incense-burners in the ceremonial of the 
Achaemenian court 65 ; and as liturgical accessories they were to be 
found throughout the whole religious world of Greece and the 
hellenized Near East, while Parthian Iran used them in the image- 
cult of yazatas. We find them employed again like this in Kushan 
Bactria* 6 , and thereafter they appear in Sogdian cultic scenes of the 
fifth-eight centuries A.C., always in connection with the depiction 
of a divinity 67 . Finally, objects very like those of Greek Bactria are 
shown occasionally in Buddhist scenes in Gandhara 68 . If we stress 
here the function of these thymiateria, and the variety of religious 
settings in which they are found, it is because they are sometimes 
confused with the Zoroastrian "fire-altar" 59 — a term which is itself 
an unfortunate one, being equivocal: the object concerned is better 
described (as by the Zoroastrians themselves) as a "fire-holder" 70 . 
The thymiaterion is a smaller version of an altar proper, that is, a 
contrivance acting as mediator between the worshipper and the 
divinity for whom an offering is intended; this it receives upon a fire 
kindled for the purpose, whereas the Zoroastrian receptacle holds 
the ever-burning divine fire which is itself an object of cult. 

The ceremonies solemnised in the sanctuary were also, it seems, 
largely dependent on water (for ablutions, aspersions, or the wa- 
tering of a sacred garden, as later at the temples of Panjikent?); for 
an open water-channel crossed the courtyard on the south side of 
the temple, and was maintained during all phases of reconstruc- 
tion. More unusual, and likewise kept up throughout the active life 

Francfort, o.c., pp. 81—4. 
^ E. Schmidt, Pcrsepolis I, Chicago 1953, Pis 98, 99, 121, 123. 

E. V. Rtveladze, "Les edifices funeraires de Bactriane septentrionale et leur 
rapport au zoroastnsme", in Cultes et monuments religieux, ed. Grenet, 36 with 
n. 9, PI. XXIII (ceramic specimens). 

' V ; G - Skoda in Xudoiiestvermye pamjatniki i problemy kul'lury Vostoka, ed. 
V. G. Lukonin, Leningrad 1985, 82-9. 

G. Verardi, "The Buddha's DhunT", in Investigating Indian Art ed 
W._Lobo and M. YaJdiz, Berlin 1987, 369-83. 

Thus Ghirshman, Ten-asses sacrees, I 22-6, deals with offerings on a 
thymiaterion (relief from the outer chapel at Bard-i Neshande) and prayer per- 
formed by Achaemenian kings in front of fire as with one and the same religious 
act. Bivar, art. cit. in n. 45, pp. 745-6, treats as "fire-altars" 2 distinct objects 
depjeted on Kusbano-Sasanian coins: a large fire-holder standing by itself, and a 
thymiaterion^ set in front of a cult-statue. Rosenfield, Dynastic Arts, 25, calls a 
fire-altar" the thymiaterion upon which Kushan kings depicted on the obverse of 
their coins lav their offering to the divinity of the reverse Etc 
70 See HZ II 52. 

of the temple, is the ritual that took place all along its rear (which 
faced north-west), at the foot of the plinth: pots of local, not Greek, 
make were buried in the ground, mouth downwards to let the 
liquid which they held flow out. 71 This is clearly a case of chthonic 

Obviously the temple was a meeting-place for local worshippers, 
Greek colonists, and officials from the neighbouring palace — in 
fact, unbaked-clay statues of seemingly Greek donors were placed 
in the vestibule 72 . The chthonic ritual was not continued by the 
squatters who turned the temple into a farm-house (it has been 
argued that the cult was continued in the northern outer chapel 73 , 
but this hypothesis lacks substantiation). In view of the markedly 
Oriental look of the building itself and the very specific character of 
the only observable manifestations of a cult, it seems difficult to 
consider the "Zeus" of the principal cult as a pure Greek 
importation 74 . The excavator cautiously hazarded the hypothesis of 
a Zeus-Oromasdes 75 ; but this idea, prompted by the example of 
Nimrud Dagh in Commagene, is not in accordance with the local 
numismatic evidence, which, as we have seen, indicates Mithra as 
the god to whom Zeus was assimilated in eastern Iran. This 
assimilation is first documented by coins of Heliocles I. who had 
certainly sojourned in the Ai" Khanum palace under his father 
Eucratides; the radiated Zeus on his coins is sometimes standing, 
sometimes enthroned with sceptre in hand, as is assumed to be the 
case with the Ai" Khanum cult-statue. 

The ritual burial of pots mouth downward does not appear to be 
attested in Greece or in the Near East; but it is in Central Asia, 
from the late Bronze Age (beginning of the 2nd millennium) down 
to the period considered here 76 . The examples so far reported 

71 Bernard, CRAI 1970, 327-30 (photograph printed upside down); 1971, 427, 

72 Bernard, CRAI 1969, 344-5. 

73 Francfort, o.c. in n. 56, p. 125. 

74 Francfort, o.c, p. 122, assigns the setting up of the statue to the reign of 
Eucratides, and cautiously suggests seeing in this "an echo of the Olympian 
proselytism of [Antiochus IV] Epiphanes"; but nothing in the coinage of Eucra- 
tides suggests that he sought to imitate Antiochus' personal religious policy, and 
all the evidence from the temple points to stability in the forms of the cult, 
including those in the main building. 

75 Bernard, CRAI 1974, 298. 

75 These finds are listed by M. A. Itina, "Rekonstrukcija nekotoryx per- 
vobytnyx obrjadov metodom analogy", in Etnografija i arxeologija Srednej 
Azii. ed. A. B. Vinogradov and others, Moscow 1979, 15-19; and by G. I. 
Bogomolov, "'K voprosy ob odnom iz domusul'manskix obrjadov Srednej 
Azii' 1 , Istorija MateriaFnoj Kul'tury Uzbekistana, 19, Tashkent 1984, 





belong to the Andronovo culture in the steppe belt, to Chorasmia, 
and to the Syr-darya, but this may simply reflect the more intensive 
archaeological exploration of those northern regions. Such deposits 
occur sometimes in the vicinity of water channels (in Chorasmia), 
sometimes in a funerary context (e.g. among the famous pit burials 
at Sintasta in the southern Ural, which have been convincingly 
attributed to Indo-Iranian tribes, and where a pot was found 
placed mouth downward over a heap of bones from sacrificed 
animals 7 ''). What the pots had contained, if anything, is generally 
undetermined; but some recently reported in a deposit in the 
Tashkent area, which are dated from the 2nd-lst centuries B.C., 
preserved traces of a liquid, like those at the Ai" Khanum temple 78 . 
An interesting aspect of the finds made at this temple is that for 
the first time this old Central Asian chthonic ritual was discovered 
in association with a cult place. It is certainly not by chance that all 
the pots were buried on one side only of the temple, the north- 
western, that is, the most shady (in fact, the shade of the acropolis 
lasts here for most of the day, the light coming only briefly at the 
end of the afternoon). It at once recalls both the rite of animal 
sacrifice {pasubandha) in Brahmanic India, in which blood is poured 
out for the powers of darkness in a hole dug on the west side of the 
sacrificial precinct 79 , and the Iranian offerings of wolfs blood 
pounded with the "omomi" herb which, according to Plutarch, 
were cast out "for Hades and darkness" in a "sunless place" 80 . 
Such libations have no place in orthodox Zoroastrianism, which 
demands broad daylight for the "good sacrifice", and which has 
striven ceaselessly to eliminate, as "daevic", rituals devoted to 
chthonic powers — even when those powers were endowed with a 
certain personality through being accepted as aspects of minor 
divinities 81 . The worshippers of the great yaiatas were evidently 
themselves not guiltless of such practices, for in their respective 

V. F. Germing, "MogiPnik Sintasta i problema rannix indoiranskix piemen", 
SA 1977/4-, 53-73 with fig. 8, tr. into Eng. as 'The cemetery at Sintashta and the 
early Indo-Iranian peoples 7 , Journal of Indo-European Studies 7, 1979, 1—29; M. 
Boyce, "Priests, cattle and men", BSOAS L, 1987, esp, pp. 508-1 1. 

78 Botomolov, art. cit., pp. 266-7 with drawine. 

79 HZI170-L 

80 lb.; and below, pp. 457-8, 520. 

81 Rapithwin, spirit of noon, retires underground in winter to bring warmth to 
roots and sources of water, but no offerings are made to him during this period, 
and he is celebrated only when he returns in spring (Boyce in Pratidanam, ed. J. 
G. Heesterman and others, The Hague 1969, 201—15; Stronghold, index s.v. 
Rapithwin). Zam is invoked in the Siroza as protectress of earth, mountains and 
khvarenah, yet her Yast as it has come down to us makes no allusion to her first and 
primeval function. 

hymns Mithra and Aredvi Sura Anahita allude to those who offer 
them "bad sacrifices'"— nocturnal ones in Aredvi's case— and to 
the priests who aid them in this 82 . The finds at Ai Khanum's great 
temple show that this struggle had not been won in Bactria, and 
that in any case the Greeks, masters of the land, were indifferent to 

It has been suggested that the chthonic offerings recorded by 
Herodotus and Plutarch among the Persians were specifically 
destined for Yama, keeping his pre-Zoroastrian quality of master of 
the underworld 63 ; and we now know that in Bactria Yama was still 
officially recognised as a god in the Kushan period 84 . But if, as we 
have tried to demonstrate, the "Zeus" of AT Khanum is really no 
other than the Mithra of local worship, incompletely Zoroastria- 
nized if at all. the idea that the libations performed at the back of 
his temple were more directly intended for him cannot be excluded; 
Mithra figures as judge of souls in Pahlavi texts, and might well 
have acquired this function early in popular belief Although such 
comparisons are inevitably very speculative in view of the differ- 
ence of times and cultural contexts, one cannot pass over without 
mention the fact that buried containers for the blood of sacrificed 
animals have been identified in a few Roman mithraea 85 . 

The symbol of the moon goddess on the crescent, which appears 
to have been part of the decoration of the Ai Khanum temple (see 
above), would also not be unexpected in a Mithraic context. As for 
Cybele, the occurrence of her icon in the Oxus temple as well casts 
doubt on its direct relevance to the cult at either place, despite the 
fact that she too was to be frequently associated with the western 
Mithraic Mysteries 86 . 

A second temple, of similar dimensions, stood in the northern 
suburb of Ai" Khanum, at a short distance beyond the gate. 87 Its 

82 HZ I 171; also Gershevitch, AHM, 63. 126-7, 200-01 n. 45 3 . 
B1 Seen. 79; add HZ II 167. 

84 F. Grenet, St. Ir. 13, 1984, 253-8. 

85 See especially M.J. Vermaseren and C. C. "Van Essen, The Excavations in 
the Mithraeum of the Church of Santa Prisca in Rome, Leiden 1965, 142-7 with 
fig. 32. Cumont (TMMM, I 63; II 243-5) earlier compared similar blood-pits 
with the trenches used for receiving blood at sacrifices by Cappadocian magi (on 
which see below, pp. 295-6). 

85 Cybele is not documented later on in Central Asia. A contribution by her to 
the type of the "great goddess 7 ' of figurines from Parthian Margiana, argued by G. 
A. Pugacenkova ("Margianskaja boginja", SA 29-30, 1959, 124), does not seem 
very probable. But the image of Nana sitting on her lion — and no longer standing 
on it, as she appears to have done in Achaemenian times — could have been 
influenced by one Hellenistic type of Cybele: Francfort, ox. in n. 56, p. 95 nn. 7, 8. 

87 Bernard, CRAI 1974, 287-9; 1976, 303-7; "Les traditions orientales . . ." 
(art. cit. in n. 56), 272-3; Downey, o.c. in n. 56, pp. 73—5. 





central building, the only one excavated, also had a three-stepped 
plinth and was likewise decorated with indented niches. Its general 
lay-out too recalls that of the great temple, but here instead of the 
vestibule there is a parvis, open to the sky; and the place of worship 
consists of three cellas side by side, each provided with its own 
staircase leading up from the parvis. When extensions were made, 
the side-cellas and the parvis were flanked by sacristies. A complete 
lack of artefacts makes it impossible to tell what cults were prac- 
tised here, but the presence of a triple cella could suggest a triad. 

The two covered temples which remain to be considered are built 
on a plan different from that of the preceding ones, and destined to 
enjoy a greater popularity: this centres on the cella, which is 
entered through a porch or columned portico, being enclosed on 
the other three sides by a corridor or set of oblong rooms. This truly 
Iranian plan derives, it has been shown, 88 from domestic architec- 
ture : it reproduces the central part of the Greco-Bactrian great 
house. Such great houses may themselves have been no more than 
local versions of a general type of lordly dwelling of post- 
Achaemenian Iran; but outside Bactria they are still unknown to 
archaeology, and it is our two Bactrian temples which provide the 
first certain attestation of the transference of this plan to sacred 
buildings. 89 

The first of these two temples is at Dil'berdzin, the site of an 
important town on the northern edge of the Bactra oasis, 60 km, 
from that city. 90 Enlarged several times in the Kushan and Sasa- 
nian epochs (when we shall be returning to it again), this temple 
was, from the time of its foundation in the Greek period, an 
imposing edifice (22 by 16 m.), set in the centre of a rectangular 
courtyard enclosed by its own rampart (140 by 100 m.), which was 
subsequently incorporated into the circuit wall of the town. How 
the cella was first arranged within is not known; but there was 
probably, as at the later phases, a platform for the cult-statue (or 
statues). The only significant detail which has been preserved from 

38 See especially G. A. Pugacenkova, "K tipologii monnmentarnogo zodcestva 
drevnix stran sredneaziatskogo regiona", Ir. Ant. 17, 1982, 21-42 (with French 
summary); D. Senium berger, M. Le Berre, G. Fussman, Surkh Kota] en Bac- 
triane, I: Les temples (Mem. DAFA 25), Paris 1983, 98-9; D. Stronach, "On the 
evolution of the early Iranian fire temple", in Papers in honour of Professor Mary 
Boyce, Acta It. 25, Leiden 1985, 605-27. 

8 * On the questions surrounding the date and function of the Susa "ayadana" 
and the Persepolis "frataraka temple" see above, pp. 38 n. 22, 117-18. 

*° I. T. Kxuglikova, Dil'berdzin, Xram Dioskurov, Moscow 1986 (with French 
summary); review by P. Bernard. Abstr. Ir. 10, 1987., nr. 189. For a short (and 
partly outdated) presentation in French see Kxuglikova, CRAI 1977, 409-21, 
with illustrations. 

the temple in its original state is a painting in the porch, which 
shows the Dioscuri standing one on each side of the entrance^ 1 . 
From this the excavation director deduced that the temple was 
dedicated to these beings, hence the name "Temple of the Dios- 
curi'* by which it is known in publications. The argument is not 
convincing, however, for in Greek tradition Castor and Pollux are 
the guardians of doorways, and they could very well have had this, 
and only this, function here; or, alternatively, they could have been 
worshipped in the two small chapels which stood on either side of 
the entrance, as "associated" (synnaioi) to the main deity to whom 
the cella was consecrated — Zeus, or some major goddess? (The 
function of fire-chambers which the excavators have proposed for 
these chapels is not substantiated by any of the finds made in them, 
and is contradicted by the fact that they were painted 92 .) 

The only Greco-Bactrian temple where excavations are still 
being conducted is at Takht-i Sangin, an ancient, fairly small town 
on the Soviet bank of the Amu-darya (which flows here in a 
north-south direction), a litde downstream from the confluence of 
that river with its right -bank tributary the Vakhsh, and hemmed in 
between river and mountain 93 . Some Muslim geographers of the 
ninth-tenth centuries considered this point to be the real beginning 
ofthejayhun (i.e. the Oxus, the Amu-darya), a concept which they 
may have inherited from the ancient Bactrians 94 ; if this is so, it 
would explain the location here of a major shrine to the river-god, 
its dedication to him having received epigraphic confirmation (see 

The temple itself lies in the middle of the inner fortification of the 

91 Kxuglikova, in Krughkova and others, Drevnjaja Baktrija I, 88-93 (with 
French summary). Here the author considers the possibility that the Dioscuri had 
been locally assimilated to the Asvins, the solar twins of Indo-Iranian mythology, 
but this is not very convincing, as their type is purely Greek. 

92 These various points are discussed by Bernard, review quoted; also (for the 
possible functions of the Dioscuri) Annali dellTstituto Orientale di Napoli, 39 NS 
29, 1979, 124-5. 

M B. A. Litvinskiy and I. R. Pichikyan, "Monuments of Art from the Sanctu- 
ary of Oxus (North Bactria)", AASH 28, 1983, 25-83 [repr. in From Hecataeus 
to al-^uwarizml, ed. J. Harmatta, Budapest, 1984, same pagination]; at present 
the fullest and best illustrated publication of the finds, but for the complete plan of 
the temple see I. Pichikyan, "The Oxus Temple Composition in the Context of 
Architectural Comparison". International Association for the Study of the Cul- 
tures of Central Asia (UNESCO), Information Bulletin 12, 1987, 42-55. Further 
details in I. R. Pichikyan, "Otkrytie temenosa xrama Oksa", VDI 1989/4, 
113-16. (The present account has also benefited from complementary informa- 
tion kindly supplied orally by the excavators.) 

94 Bernard-Francfort, o.c. in n. 8, p. 28 (discussing accounts by r stakhri and 
Ibn Hawqal). 



town, a rectangular enclosure (237 by 165 m.) built of stone; this 
use of stone, very rare in Bactria, has given the place its name (the 
"Stone Terrace"). Further excavation is needed to confirm whether 
this central stronghold was entirely occupied by the temple 
together with its outer courtyard and other dependencies (as is 
the case at Dil'berdzin, and later at Surkh Kotal); but explora- 
tion of the main building has now progressed far enough for 
its chronology and plan to be established. It remained in continu- 
ous use until at least the reign of the Kushan king Huvishka 
(second half of the second century A.C.), and despite various 
alterations — mainly partitioning and narrowing — the main struc- 
tural elements were kept unchanged from its foundation in the 
early Seleucid period. This date is indicated by the large size of the 
square mud-bricks (50 by 50 cm.) with which the massive, 3-m. 
thick walls were built, as well as by the type of the Ionic capitals 
which once surmounted the stone columns. These capitals, com- 
bined with bases shaped according to one of the Achaemenian 
types, find their closest parallels at the Athena temple at Priene and 
at the Artemis temple at Sardis, whose reconstruction was initiated 
by Alexander 95 . Such direct and costly architectural borrowings at 
the early stage of the Greek presence in Bactria can hardly be 
ascribed to local initiative; and it is tempting to suppose that 
Seleucus' son and co-regent Antiochus, who must have made much 
capital out of his own half-Bactrian ancestry when he was sent by 
his father to rally the upper satrapies 96 , actively contributed to the 
construction (or perhaps rather reconstruction) of this national 

The temple building is set within a square (51 by 51 m.), and its 
design presents the first recorded combination of features which, 
individually or as a whole, were to be found subsequently in a 
number of eastern Iranian temples: a main room containing four 
pillars (here columns) set in a square; an eastern aspect; a large 
entrance portico (here, of eight columns in two rows); two wings 
flanking this portico (see the plan which follows the maps at the 
front of this volume). 

At Takht-i Sangin the wings, which project sideways beyond the 
main structure, are part of the original building. 97 They consist of 

Pichikyan, "The Oxus Temple Composition 
96 Above, pp. 11, 24-. 

.", p. 45 with nn. 7-8, 

The walls are sash-joined (the plan published by Pichikyan, art. cit., fig. 1, is 
slightly misleading in this respect, as it marks the difference in height between the 
main square structure and the 2 sideways-projecting wings according to a graphic 
convention which is normally used to indicate a break in the masonry). Estabhsh- 



two strictly symmetrical sets of rooms, one of them square (c.5.3 by 
5.3 m.). The square rooms, in the state in which they were found by 
the excavators, had undoubtedly been used as fire-chambers for a 
long time: each had at its centre a square fire-holder built of mud 
bricks, and in the corners four smaller ones, all of them enlarged by 
repeated coats of clay plaster; the surfaces of the fire-holders and of 
the walls were baked to a reddish colour, and a thick layer of ashes 
covered the floors. The question is whether this function, which is 
clearly documented only for the last, Kushan, phase, had been that 
of the square rooms from the outset. The positive answer of the 
excavators is based on two arguments; first, the size of the bricks in 
the core of the central fire-holders, which is similar to those in the 
original walls of the temple; second, and perhaps more cogent, the 
care shown by the builder — whose original plan was apparently 
never altered in this part of the temples — to secure the isolation of 
the square rooms from the outer world: each has one narrow 
doorway which leads directly into the central portico, and another 
which leads into a smaller antechamber between it and the fore- 
court. From this antechamber there is a doorway to the front of the 
building; but this outer doorway is not aligned with the inner one 
connecting it with the square room, so that even if both doors stood 
open no casual gaze would light upon the sacred fire, and the fire 
would be protected also from gusts of wind. 

Each wing contains also a relatively large rectangular room, to 
be reached only from the antechamber; and in front of this a small 
square chamber projects forward beyond the facade. Two monu- 
mental bases 98 stood before these little chambers, which are acces- 
sible only from the forecourt. Each base is square (2.8 by 2.8 m.) 
with moulded sides, built of separate stones bearing individual 
Greek letters; and they appear to have replaced earlier ones which 
had been made of clay or mud-brick. A third, smaller stone base 
stood inside the portico, by the entrance to the cella. In the 
forecourt, flanking the way to the entry-gate* were two pedestals 
which had supported colossal bronze statues; of them only the feet 
of one survive, showing it to have been two and a half times 

ing the detailed inner chronology of the monument is complicated by the fact that, 
except in the fire -chambers, the floors were carefully kept clean during its whole 
period of use, so that no traces remain of successive layers of occupation. 

98 They have been published as "altars" by Pichikyan ("The Graeco-Bactriaii 
Altars in the Temple of the Oxus", International Association for the Study of the 
Cultures of Central Asia, Information Bulletin 12, 1987, 56-65), but P. Bernard 
has reservations about this identification. 

Personal communication by the excavators. 



From the back of the portico one passes by a wide opening 
directly into the tetrastyle cella (12 by 12 m.), named by the 
excavators the "White Hall" because its walls and floor were 
repeatedly coated with plaster. From the cella two other wide 
openings give into two side sacristies, the same length as it. From 
the left-hand sacristy a narrow doorway leads into a long corridor- 
like room running lengthwise behind the cella, while from the 
right-hand one a similar doorway leads into an L-shaped corridor 
room. The long arm of the whole "L" runs parallel with the first 
corridor room but outside it, its further wall being the back wall of 
the temple. These two rooms, accessible only through the sacristies, 
were obviously intended for storing the temple's possessions. 

In fact the building yielded an extraordinary amount of material, 
the richest collection of objects ever found in an Iranian temple. 
From the first century B.C. they appear to have been gradually cast 
into the remotest corners of the corridors, or buried in deep 
trenches (Javissae) dug in the floors or under the inner walls, first in 
the sacristies and corridors, and eventually in the cella itself 00 . 
Many of the pieces thus disposed of date from the Seleucid and 
Greco-Bactrian periods, but others, from Achaemenian times, pre- 
date the foundation of the temple as it is known to us 101 , while the 

100 For topographical and stratigraphical details on these Javissae see B. A. 
Litvtnskij and 1. R. Pichikyan, "Takht-i-Sangin - Kamennoe gorodisce (raskopki 
1976-1978 gg.)", in Kul'tura i iskusstvo drevnego Khorezma, ed. M. 1. Itina, 
Moscow 1981, 195-212. 

101 In the light of these discoveries it now seems very likely that the Oxus 
treasure (on which see HZ II 39 f 147—8, 275—8) belonged originally to the Oxus 
temple at Takht-i Sangin, or perhaps to a still undiscovered Achaemenian 
predecessor in the vicinity. From the somewhat conflicting reports gathered by 
Russian travellers, the find-spot appears to have been jusl along the right bank of 
the river; N. A. Maev, a railway engineer who visited the area 3 years after the 
discovery, gives the name Takht-i Kuvad, which is a fortress 5 km. downstream 
from Takht-i Sangin; but he adds that it was at the exact confluence of the 
Amu-darya and Vakhsh, a topographical detail which applies only to Takht-i Sangin 
itself (see E.V. Zejmal', Amudar'inslcii klad. Katalog vystavki, Leningrad 1979, 
14-15; Pichikyan, "The Oxus Temple Composition . . ." (art. cit. in n. 93), 46 with 
n. 10). Compared with the Takht-i Sangin deposits, the finds of the Oxus 
treasure differ both by the larger proportion of precious metals and an earlier 
chronological terminus: no object in it can be certainly ascribed to the post- 
Achaemenian period, except for the coins, whose dates stretch down to the first 
third of the 2nd century B.C.; but it is not known if these were found in the same 
hiding-place as the rest of the Treasure. Some of the votive plaques carry the 
image of a horse, a sacrificial offering appropriate to a river-god (Dalton, Treasure 
of the Oxus, no. 99-100 with PI. XI; on later traditions linking the Oxus with 
horses see J. -P. Drege et F. Grenet, "Un Temple de I'Oxus pres de Takht-i 
Sangin, d'apres un temoignage chinois du Vllle siecle", St. Ir. 16, 1987, 117-21). 
A gold ring with the depiction of a winged, human-faced bull carries an Aramaic 
inscription Wksw, but this could be the personal name of the owner (ib., no. 102 
with pi. XVI). 



arts of later nomadic invaders and the Kushan empire arc also 
represented. The set of finds includes, on the one hand, remains of 
animal sacrifices, chiefly horns of deer, bulls, sheep and goats; on 
the other, votive offerings, which were not necessarily appropriate 
in character to the cult being celebrated. Among these a large, 
proportion of weapons is to be noted: pieces of armour, bows, 
arrows, spearheads, swords, and richly carved ivory scabbards, 
several of which bear motives belonging to the Heracles cycle 102 . 
The coins suggest, by the diversity of their origin, that some of those 
visiting the temple came from beyond the boundaries of Bactria 103 , 

One of the trenches held the remains of stucco or unfired clay 
portraits, which appear to have been those of past donors, disposed 
of by burial in consecrated ground. Two of them are Greek royal 
persons wearing the diadem; one cannot be identified' 04 , but the 
other is almost certainly Eucratides depicted as an ageing 
man 105 — an eloquent testimony to the continuity of royal patronage 
down to the end of Greek rule in Bactria. Another donor, called 
"the satrap" by the excavators, is bearded and wears a tiara with 
side-flaps 106 . The two traditions of worship, Greek and Iranian, met 
here: for this we have, for once, written proof, for the same trench 
yielded a bronze statuette set on an inscribed stone stand 107 : "As an 
ex-voto Atrosokes consecrates (this) to the Oxus (Oxoiy*. The 
dedicator bears an Iranian name, one linked with fire and attested 
in Zoroastrian liturgical language: atr-saoka "firebrand" 108 . But his 
dedication is in Greek, the script being datable to the middle of the 
second century B.C.; and the god Oxus is represented in the purely 
Greek guise of Marsyas, a kind of grotesque Silenus playing on the 
double flute. 

Before examining the reasons for this apparently strange icono- 
graphic choice } we have first to consider for a moment the many 

102 Li tvinskij- Pichikyan, art. cit. in n. 93, pp. 67-77 -with figs. 9-10: on the 
youthful Heracles head, supposed — perhaps wrongly — to be a portrait of Alexan- 
der, see also Pichikyan, SA 1983/1, 80-90. 

103 E. V. Zejmal', Drevnie monety Tadzikistana, Dushanbe 1983, 294-5; see 
the remarks by G. Fussman, RN 28, I986> 157. 

ia * Li tvinskij -Pichikyan, art. cit., p. 64 with fig. 6. 

105 Personal observation by P. Bernard (this object is still unpnblished). 

106 Li tvinskij -Pichikyan, art. cit., pp. 64-5 with fig. 7. 

107 B. A. Litvinskij, 1. R. Pichikyan, J. G. Vinogradov, "Votiv Atrosoka iz 
xrama Oksa v severnoj Baktrii", VDI 1985/4, 84-1 10; review by P. Bernard, St. 
Ir. 16, 1987, 103-15. 

108 Air. Wb. 319 (from Vd. 8. 81-96); also E. Benveniste, JA 1936, 223 [rcpr. in 
fitudes Sogdiennes, Wiesbaden 1979, 150]; M. Boyce, BSOA& 1968, 66. There is 
no need to suppose with the excavators that the bearer of this name was a 
Zoroastrian pnest: see Bernard's review. 





questions raised by the temple as a whole. Incompletely published 
as it is, this monument is already of paramount importance for the 
history of Iranian religious architecture: in fact it presents the 
earliest clear example of temple-fires kept according to Zoroastrian 
regulations, i.e. carefully protected from pollution, (seemingly) 
ever-burning, and with the ashes being allowed to accumulate. 
According to one of the excavators, the actual fire-cult took place in 
the cella, to which torches were solemnly carried from the cham- 
bers at the time of the ceremonies; and he is inclined to extend this 
conclusion to all the other Iranian temples whose plan includes 
side-chambers in front of the main room 109 . But two of the examples 
he quotes (the Persepolis "Frataraka temple" and the Susa 
"ayadana") cannot even be certainly said to have been temples, let 
alone fire temples 110 , while in another instance (Dil'berdzin) the 
side rooms are unlikely to have sheltered fires'". If the cella of the 
Takht-i Sangin temple were really the prototype of the later cahar 
laq, one would expect the fire to have been enthroned in the centre 
between the four pillars: but no remains pointing to such an 
arrangement have been discovered. There is nothing either against 
the middle of the rear (west) wall, the spot where one would 
normally expect the cult-statue, if any, or a ceremonial fire-holder 
to stand. The only pedestal found in the cella stood near the 
northern end of this wall; made of stones and roughly square in 
shape (2.6 by 2.5 m., h. 30 cm.), it carries on its surface two round 
imprints (diam. I m.) which it would be tempting to connect with 
the twin fires in the front wings of the building; but instead of those 
of fire-holders, they may represent the traces of statue bases. 

Therefore, until more complete publication, it is preferable not to 
apply too hastily the label "fire-temple" to the monument as a 
whole. At present there appear equal grounds for seeing it as an 
image sanctuary with accessory fire-chambers. Such a situation 
was to be found, much later, at the Temple I of Panjikent" 2 ; and it 
might well be the sort of combination Pausanias saw in the Anahit 
temples of Lydia, where it seems that the fire "chapels" (oikema) 
were subsidiary ones while the cellas were devoted to the cult- 

109 Pichikyan, art. cit. in n. 93, pp. 51-2. 

110 Above, pp. 38 n. 22, 117-18. 

111 Above pp. 172-3. 

1 12 V. G. Skoda, "Le culte du feu dans les sanctuaires de Pendzikent' 1 , in Cultes 
et monuments religieux, ed. Grenet, 63—72 with Pis XXXII-XXXIX. (The 
situation is different at Surkh Kotal, as here the original Temple A had been 
abandoned before the construction of the Kushano-Sasanian Temples B and D: 
see HZ IV.) 

statues depicted on the coins" 3 . At Takht-i Sangin the existence 
(through the portico) of easy communication between the fire- 
chambers and the cella suggests a ceremonial link of some sort 
between these various points of cultic activity; but, rather than a 
procession of embers to the cella — a detail unparalleled in the texts 
or in living Zoroastrian usage 114 — , this could suggest the fires 
receiving the regular ritual oblation of fat when animals were 
sacrificed to the Oxus; and this may indeed have been the main 
cultic purpose of their installation at his temple, with two fires lest 
either should be overwhelmed by the number of such obligatory 
offerings. 115 

The god Oxus 

Various pieces of evidence attest the fact that the river Oxus, the 
present Amu Darya, was the object of a cult in the riverine 
countries. The Kushan coins were to present it with human traits, 
with for legend its Iranian name OAXSO (*WakhJ(u), presumably 
from the root waxs- "grow, leap"), which still today is borne by the 
valley of its upper course (the Wakhan) and by the large affluent 
which joins it at Takht-i Sangin (the Vakhsh). Traditions from the 
time of the Arab conquest record the existence of a temple on an 
island near this confluence: it was most probably the distant 
successor of the Hellenistic sanctuary. 116 Still in the tenth century 
Biruni mentions the festival of the Oxus, incorporated in the 
Zoroastrian calendar of the Ghorasmians: "(month) of Ispan- 
darmaji (= Spandarmad). . . . The 10th is the feast called Wakhs- 
angdm. VVakhs is the name of the angel who has watch over the 
water, and especially over the river Oxus'*." 7 In Hellenistic and 
pre-Hellenistic times one meets the river's name repeatedly as part 
of Bactrian personal names, functioning like that of a divinity: 
Oxybazos (*Wakfis(u)-wazdah- "Strong through Oxus"), Oxydates 

113 Below, pp. 235-6. 

114 M. Boyce, JAOS 95, 1975, 464. (Pichikyan, art. cit. in n. 93, p. 52 with n. 35, 
referring to a votive plaque of the Oxus treasure, takes as a torch carried by the 
worshipper what is in fact the baresman: see Dalton, Treasure of the Oxus, no. 
19-23 with PI. XV). 

115 This, concern is expressed in The Epistles of Manuscihr, I. VIII. 3 (ed. B. N. 
Dhabhar, Bombay 1912, 38). 

116 Drege-Grenet, art. cit. in n. 101. 

117 The Chronology of Ancient Nations, tr. E. Sachau, 225. (For survivals in the 
modern folklore of Tajikistan see R. L. Nemenova, "Narodnye predstavlenija, 
svjazannye 5 rekoj Vaxs", in ttnografija Tadzikistatia, ed. B. A. Litvinskij, 
Dusanbe 1985, 98-106.) 





(*Wakks(u)-ddta- "Given by Oxus"), Mithroaxos {*Mithra-Wakhs(u)- 
"[Given by] Mithra and Oxus"), and probably Oxyartes {*Wakhs(u)- 
warta- "Protected by Oxus"). 118 

It undoubtedly appears that in Bactria the veneration which 
Zoroastrianism prescribes for the "creation" of water was concen- 
trated chiefly on the divinized Oxus. On the Kushan coins he was 
to be the only yaiata clearly linked with water, while neither Apam 
Napat nor Anahit appear on them. The situation there was thus 
analogous to that attested by the Persepolis tablets, which refer to 
an official cult rendered — in one case by a magus — to local god- 
rivers in Pars. 119 In Sasanian times Zoroastrian assimilation of the 
cult of the Oxus was brought about, as we know, by identifying this 
river with the Vanhvi Daitya, the "Good River", on whose bank 
Zoroaster had received his revelation; 120 this assimilation may have 
been made at a much earlier date, but proof is lacking. 

The iconography of the god Oxus underwent various changes. 
The Kushan coins were to show him as a bearded man with a long 
sceptre, very close to one of their types for Ahura Mazda, but 
carrying as a distinctive attribute a fish. But, as we have seen, the 
votive statuette from Takht-i Sangin gives him traits which are 
much less exalted, those namely of Marsyas. This little rustic god 
was already known in the role of a river god; but that is in Asia 
Minor, where he was closely associated with the river Maeander, to 
which the river Marsyas was tributary. The chief city on the 
Maeander, Magnesia, was famed for sending colonists to Seleucid 
Iran; and, as it happens, king Euthydemus is known to have been 
one of them. It thus becomes probable that the valley of the Oxus, 
or at least that part of it close to Takht-i Sangin, had been largely 
settled by "Magnetes", who, following a custom often attested, had 
transferred to the local god-river both the imagery of one from their 
native land 121 and certain details of his cult (as is shown by the 
presence of a great number of flutes among the offerings at the 
temple 122 ). The fact that Atrosokes, either a Bactrian or of mixed 

Grenet, art. cit. in n. 22. (Here Oxyartes is interpreted as a doandva\ 
*Wakhs(u)-Arti~ (or -Aria-) "(Given by) Oxus and Asi (or Asa)"; but the other 
explanation, proposed by J. Markwart, Philologus, Supp. Bd. 10, 1905, 26, is 
perhaps preferable). 

119 &Z II 139-41. 

120 Grenet, art. cit. in n. 13; Drege-Grenet, an. cit. 

121 Bernard, o.c. in n. 1, p. 132; and review quoted in n. 107, pp. 103-15. 

It has been alleged that a stucco statuette found in the deposits represents 
Apollo, Marsyas' rival in the musical art, then his slayer: Drevnosti Tadzikistana, 
ed. E. V. ZejmaT, Dushanbe, 1985, no. 204, photograph p. 74; but P. Bernard 
would identify it rather as an Eros archer. 

Greek and Iranian blood, who bore a theophoric name that evoked 
the fire-eult, chose to honour the god Oxus under the aspect given 
him by the colonists, vividly attests the ascendancy gained by 
Greek forms of cult in the religious lives of hellenized Iranians. 

Survival of a non-kellenized "Zoroastrianism? 

The sum of the evidence so far examined gives the religious life of 
Greek Bactria the appearance of an eclecticism, indeed a syncre- 
tism, whose outward manifestations — except for the temple 
architecture — were largely taken from Greece and from hellenized 
Asia Minor, while the pantheon made place for someyazatas, either 
pan-Iranian (Mithra) or local (Oxus). The contribution brought to 
this aggregate by strictly Zoroastrian concepts, and the part as- 
signed to Zoroastrian priests in the service of the cult, are impossible 
to perceive, except (it seems) at Takht-i Sangin, while at the main 
temple of Ai Khanum the only observable cultic practice is rather 
"daevic" in character. 

Is one then obliged to consider that the numismatic and archaeo- 
logical evidence provides a complete picture of the religious reality? 
The lack of texts, and the almost exclusively urban nature of the 
excavations, tend to give prominence to the most official and 
striking manifestations, those whieh emanated from groups most 
affected by the policy of hellenization. To take but one example, 
what should we know of the survival of Zoroastrianism in Asia 
Minor if there too we were reduced to this range of sources, and 
were deprived of the writings of eye-witnesses, of Strabo and 
Pausanias? The illumination which we have for eastern Iran would 
doubtless be very different if the investigations of Clearchus, for 
whom "barbaric" beliefs had an intrinsic interest, had been pre- 
served for us. 

There are, however, indications which, taken together, could 
suggest the existence of a traditional Zoroastrianism. These include 
several personal names attested at Ai Khanum which may be held 
to reflect faithfully local onomastic usage (since they are those 
of minor officials, not of nobles, for whom a Persian origin can 
never be ruled out). Among them is one which invokes a purely 
Zoroastrian being; Oumanos, Vohu Manah, for whom there is 
no evidence anywhere of a syncretic association with a Greek 
god. 123 

Moreover, to continue at AY Khanum, there is a third sanctuary 

Grenet, art. cit. in n. 22, p. 376. 



there, unfortunately only partly explored, 124 which contrasts 
sharply with the two covered ones discussed above. It is set at the 
city's highest point, on the very top of the huge acropolis, which 
itself, at 70 m., dominates the lower town and seems to have been 
occupied chiefly by military installations. The sanctuary consists of 
a square courtyard with at its centre a podium, open to the sky, 
itself also square (16 by 16 m. at its base). This was made of 
unbaked brick, in six stepped tiers, with a seventh, proportionately 
more reduced tier (about 5x5 m.?) forming a platform where rites 
were enacted, 3 m. above ground level. The complex was exactly 
oriented towards the east, with a stairway of baked brick leading up 
to the middle of its west face. The only evidence for dating comes 
from the shape and size of the bricks, which place the structure in 
the Greek period. 

The central podium invokes diverse comparisons. On the re- 
gional level it bears close resemblances to a podium of rammed 
earth, of the Achaemenian period, excavated at Pacmak-tepe in the 
Surkhan-darya valley; this, with three tiers and dimensions com- 
parable to the Ai" Khanum one (21 m. square, 2.60 m. high), was 
oriented towards the south-east and bore some light superstruc- 
ture, perhaps just an enclosing wall to give shelter from the pre- 
vailing winds. 125 As we have indicated, it was this type of tiered 
podium which inspired the shape of the stepped plinths of the 
covered temples at Ai Khanum. In appearance, these open-air 
structures can be compared with the stepped monumental altar 
which stood on the eastern terrace of Nimrud Dagh, similarly 
facing the rising sun. 126 The excavator of the Pacmak-tepe monu- 
ment thought it had served as a place for fire-ceremonies enacted in 
the open air. This supposition rests on two postulates: one. that in 
historic times the cult of fire was an irreducible element of the 
Iranian religious life to which these monuments belong, the other, 
that this cult included public ceremonies during which the fire had 
to be visible as far away as possible. The first proposition is too 
restrictive: thus blood sacrifice offered at a sacred place under the 
open sky has remained to this day a liturgical act essential to the 
Zoroastrianism of Iran, quite independent of any fire or image cult. 

124 Short description (not illustrated) by Bernard, CRAI 1976, 306-7. The 
following account is drawn partly from unpublished material. 

'" 5. R. Pidaev, ONU 1973/11,77-82; the same, in Drevnjaja Baktrija, ed. V. 
M. Masson, Leningrad 1974, 33-8; Bernard, "Les traditions orientales . . ."', 
(art. cit. inn. 56), 271. 

136 See below, p. 322. (The apparent Hkeness to the podiums set on the "Sacred 
Terraces" of Elymais is, on the other hand, probably misleading", as these belong 
to the Semitic religious sphere, see above, p. 45—7.) 



The second has been proved wrong by the latest archaeological 
discoveries: it has been shown that all fire-temples whose function 
and lay-out are definitely known were enclosed places, where 
contemplation of the sacred fire was restricted to those taking part 
in the ceremonies concerned; and the cahdr tdq of the Sasaman 
period, open to every- wind that blew, where the fire was supposed 
to have been exposed for the veneration of multitudes, is now held 
to be a figment of archaeological imagination. 127 The "little heaps 
of ashes" indicated "here and there" on the podium of Pacmak- 
tepe even if it is admitted that they were connected with that 
monument's function, 128 do not authorize one to make a sacred fire 
out of them, since the Zoroastrian ritual of sacrifice— at least, in 
modern times, that of the yasna— requires the presence of fire, 
brought in a portable container. 

In fact such podiums call to mind rather the observations of 
Herodotus (1.131-132) and Strabo on the animal sacrifice which 
"the Persians, the Medes and several other peoples" (Strabo 
XV.3.15) offered in the open air. with a predilection for high 
places. 129 They could have functioned as sacrificial platforms 
(raised above the impurities which might have contaminated the 
soil), where priests could solemnize the chief rites. 130 What stood in 
the vicinity of the Pacmak-tepe podium is not known, but at Ai 
Khanum there were apparently various buildings around and 
outside the courtyard. As these have not been excavated, and as the 
podium itself has yielded no artifacts, it is not possible to push these 
interpretations further. One may note, however, that the position 
given to this sanctuary— at the site's highest point, facing the rising 
sun and the mountains, and with a view of the confluence of the 
Oxus and the Kokcha river which flows down from Badakhshan— 
would accord admirably with the Zoroastrian concern to venerate 
the natural "creations". 131 
A second monument of the Greek period, which also appears to 

i« Bovce Il On the Zoroastrian Temple Cult of Fire", JAOS 95, 1975, 463-5. 
The last survey of the evidence, with negative conduuons, is given by K, 
Boucharlat, "Chahar tag et temple du fcu sasanidc", iv. . De 1 Indus aux Balkans. 
Recueil a la memoire de Jean Deshayes, Paris 1985 461-78. 

128 Those which have been observed on the Ai Khanum podium come from 
fire-places which postdate the abandonment of the structure. 

l1 ^ See HZ II 179-81 (also for the comparison with the usages ol present-day 
Zoroastrians). This interpretation is also favoured by Bernard (l.cj, who ma 
subsequent article has suggested that this sanctuary had been used chiefly j>y 
native soldiers of the garrison stationed on the acropolis: "Problemes d histoire 
coloniale grecque , . ." (art. cit, inn. 21), Ml, 119. 

130 See HZ I 166-7, 322. T „ . ,_ 

131 Cf the setting of the temple on the Kuh-i Khwaja, above, p. 15U. 






be cultic and to belong to the local tradition, is known today by the 
name Dziga-tepe, and is to be found 5 km. to the east of the town of 
Dil'berdzin. 132 A circular wall, some 150 m. in diameter, originally 
enclosed, it seems, an open area, surmounted at its centre by a 
building; but since excavation here has not reached below a subse- 
quent reoccupation of the site, an interpretation can be based on no 
more than the appearance of the partly excavated enclosing wall. 
This, pierced by some thirty gates set between towers, and adorned 
by a multitude of false arrow-slits without functional purpose, was 
evidently not originally planned for military use (even though later, 
perhaps during the troubled period which followed the downfall of 
the Greek power, the gates were blocked up to turn it into a 
defensive redoubt). The circular plan was itself an archaism, for, 
though widely used in Central Asia down to the Greek conquest, it 
was then abandoned in favour of the quadrangular one for towns 
and fortresses. All this seems to indicate that this was an imposing 
temple serving a whole region (the ancient village which has been 
identified beside the enclosure would not by itself have warranted a 
cultic place of such size); and this temple doubtless attracted 
different worshippers from those to whom the great "Temple of the 
Dioscuri" appealed, built at the same time within its own rampart 
at Dil'berdzin. The data discovered by excavation do not justify 
further speculation, 133 

Popular manifestations of religion: tkejigurines 

Throughout the Iranian sphere— and indeed far beyond it — our 
chief means of access to popular devotional life is a series of cultic 
figurines produced by local craftsmen, made usually of terracotta. 
They have come to light mostly by the sale of antiquities or chance 
discoveries; but increasingly often there are some indications of 

G. A, Pugacenkova in Drevnjaja Baktrija II, ed. I. T. Kruglikova, 63-94 
(with French summary). [The accepted chronology of the monument has been 
questioned after a coin of Bahram IV (388-399 A.C.) was reported in a trial-pit 
dug to the lowest level: I. T. Kruglikova, Kratkie Soobscenija 180, 1984, 51. One 
can, nevertheless, question whether this coin is correctly stratified, as all the other 
coins and the ceramics point to a dare in the 3rd-2nd centuries B.C.: see S. R 
Pidaev, in Drevnjaja Baktrija III, ed. I. T. Kruglikova, Moscow 1984, 112-24.] 

G. A. Pugacenkova, art. cit., pp. 88-92, supposes that the monument was 
intended tor an astrological cult, arguing that the numerous towers of the circuit 
wall could be used as horizon dividers by an observer standing on top of the 
central structure. This is based upon a somewhat far-fetched comparison with the 
Choresmian mausoleum of Koj-Krylgan-kala, whose astrological functions are 
themselves questionable (see below). The towers at Dziga-tepe arc irregularly 
spaced, which does not favour the hypothesis of a Bactrian Stonehenge. 

their archaeological context, which makes it possible to reason 
more securely about the chronology of the types and the way in 
which these objects were used. 

In Central Asia, where these figurines have been particularly 
well studied, the first examples from historic times which can be 
certainly dated are those from Ai Khanum, found in various parts 
of the site. 134 Greek influence is little apparent in the style, and the 
technique is Oriental (the moulded figurines are solid, with the 
backs not worked, being made to be seen from the front only). The 
oldest group in the female series consists of naked figurines of 
markedly sexual character, stiffly posed. They are doubtless to be 
linked with ivory dolls of similar aspect, whose arms are sometimes 
articulated. Nowhere in Eastern Iran are these nude types very 
widely distributed, and they eventually give way to a dignified 
figure which may be characterized as "matronly". In Bactria and 
Chorasmia her dress tends towards the Oriental (skirt falling in 
folds, an ample cloak or a tunic knotted at the waist), in Margiana 
more towards the Greek; her headdress and ornaments are exag- 
gerated to a greater or less degree, but a certain unity is conferred 
by the strictly frontal pose (standing, or sometimes seated), and the 
fixed position of the hands, the left resting on the groin, the right 
laid on the bosom, which suggests descent from one of the types of 
the naked goddess, the goddess who presses her breast. 135 Various 
attributes appear which do not modify the basic type, such as a ring 
or plaited crown held in the left hand, and in the right a cup, vase, 
or fruit, a little later a mirror. 135 

134 Those found in the main temple are not necessarily votive deposits, and 
could as well be linked with the habitations of squatters: Francfort, ox. in n. 56, 
pp. 15-17, 40-1. Those from the other parts of the site, which present a broader 
range of types, are published by O. Guillaume et A. Rougeulle, FouiJIes d'Ai 
Khanoum, VII: Les petitsobjets (Mem. DAFA 31), 1987. For a broad selection of 
types representative of the various areas of Central Asia in the "antique" period 
(i.e. until 3rd-4th centuries A.C), see the comprehensive volume Drevnejsie 
cosudarstva Kavkaza i Srednei Azii, ed. G. A. Koselenko {coll. "Arxeologija 
CXLII, CLXIV. For an orientation for the scattered Soviet bibliography on the 
figurines see also Francfort, I.e. 

,3S Although the gesture might remind one of the Hellenistic type of Aphrodite 
pudica, the descent from the local nude type is obvious in the series from Margiana: 
G, A. Pugacenkova, "Margianskaja boginja" (art. cit. in n. 86); compare figs. I 
and 5 . A similar tendency to clothe the goddess is observed in Seleucid Mesopota- 
mia: M. -T. Barrelet, Figurines et reliefs de terrecuite dela Mesopotamie antique, 
I, Paris 1968, 132. 

136 On the "goddess with a mirror" see F. Grenet, St. Ir. 11, 1982, 157-8 with 
PI XVI/2; "L'Athena de Dir'berdzin", in Cultes et monuments religieux, ed. 
Grenet, 41-45 with Pis XXIV-XXV. 





The masculine terracottas from Ai" Khanum are of a very diffe- 
rent aspect; they represent horsemen, roughly modelled in the 
round, with their horses standing under them, a type which was to 
be found everywhere in Central Asia at later epochs. 137 

The coexistence of these two categories of figurines draws eastern 
Iran into a cultural union known hitherto especially from finds 
made in Elymais, Mesopotamia, Syria and as far west as Cyprus. 138 
This cultural union can now be seen to coincide broadly with the 
sphere of Achaemenian expansion: it is precisely from the 
Achaemenian epoch onwards, it seems, that on the western sites 
local types of fertility goddesses are joined by "Persian horsemen", 
wearing on their heads the characteristic tiara. 139 Plainly one cannot 
hope to account for this phenomenon unless one studies it over the 
whole area, not limiting one's analysis to regional developments. 140 
The theories which make these statuettes — the horsemen and 
sometimes even the female figures — into symbols for the worship- 
pers themselves, or indeed into mere knick-knacks, do not take into 
account the variety of settings in which they have been found: 
private houses, graves, and temples, where their use was indispu- 
tably votive. 141 The explanation most often considered is that the 
horseman is a general symbol for the sun "with swift horses", 
which could be identified locally with this or that particular solar 
divinity. 142 It is far from being the case, however, that all rider-gods 
of the western periphery of Iran were essentially solar divinities, 
nor does this theory take account of the markedly ethnic character 
so often presented by these male figures, even though their use 

137 See lastly K.. J. Muxitdinov, "Baktrijskij vsadnik", in Skifo-sibirskoe 
kul'turnoe-istoriceskoe edinstvo, ed. A. I. Martynov, Kemerovo 1980, 212-27. 

138 Barrelet, o.c., pp. 122, 128—30 (with references to the original publications); 
H. E. Mathiesen, Ikaros. The Hellenistic Settlements, I: The Terracotta Figur- 
ines, Copenhagen 1982. 

' The "Persian horsemen*' found at Memphis in Egypt are a particular case, 
as these could be directly linked with the presence of an Achaemenian garrison: 
W. M. Flinders Petrie, Memphis I, London 1909, 17 with PL XL; M. I. Rostovt- 
zeff Yale Classical Studies 5, 1935, 188-9. 

Thus the link postulated by G. A, Pugacenkova ("O kul'tax Baktrii v svete 
arxeologii", VDI 1974/3, 127) with the "cult of the rider-ancestor on the steppes" 
and "shamanistic" concepts fails to account for the popularity of these types in 
western regions remote from the land of the Scythians. 

141 See P. Ackerman in Pope, Survey, I, 198—200, whose remarks on this 
specific point keep their value. In the western area of Iranian dominion the joint 
presence of both types used as votive offerings is documented in the Ninurta 
temple at Babylon (R. Koldewey, Das wiedererstehende Babylon 4 , Leipzig 1925, 
227-9; the level is probably Achaemenian, see Barrelet, I.e.); and on the "Sacred 
Terraces 5 ' of Elymais (Ghirshman, Terrasses sacrees, I 77-81; II, Pis CXI- 

142 Ackermann, o.c, p. 219. 

extends far beyond purely Iranian localities. One is led accordingly 
to seek a more subtle explanation, and one that acknowledges the 
social background: the peoples of the Achaemenian empire may 
have come to confer on the male divinities whose help they sought 
the aspect which, for them, most directly evoked the idea of 
victorious might, namely that of the then rulers of their lands'" (a 
little as, not long since, the sainted Ali and Hossein were repre- 
sented in popular Iranian art in the guise of Qajar warriors). This 
then could be the explanation of the various avatars of the terra- 
cotta horseman of Achaemenian times, who reappears decked out 
in a Macedonian kausia in Seleucid Susa, 1 * 4 and in a tall Saka cap in 
post-Greek Central Asia. 

Is it possible to put names to the divinities represented in Bactria 
by these two pan-Iranian types of figurines? Archaeologists work- 
ing in the Iranian field customarily associate popular types of 
fertility goddesses with Anahit, 145 and those studying Central Asia 
have not escaped this tendency. 1 * 6 Yet the statuettes of Bactria (and 
also, at this epoch, of Margiana), though they sometimes represent 
attributes and details of dress very precisely, show few correspon- 
dences with the no less precise descriptions given of the cult-image 
of that goddess in Yast 5: only occasionally is a girdle to be met 
with, a headdress or a cloak, and never all three together, while the 
cloak is never adorned. The presence of a cup is not enough to 
identify a water goddess, and why should a mirror indicate Anahit 
particularly? In general — and this is a point which must from now 
on be stressed — no Kushan coin, and no document written in 
Central Asia (setting aside late borrowings from Sasanian Iran) 
ever mentions Anahit as such. 147 What one encounters is, on the 

143 This is, in broad outline, the solution reached by Ernest Will about rider- 
gods depicted on stone reliefs in the hellenized Near East: Le Relief cultuel 
greco-romain, 103-24. 

144 Those found in Elymais (see above, p. 44, 46 n. 68) were probably manufac- 
tured at Susa. 

145 Ackermann, o.c, pp. 211, 216-17. 

146 Since K. V, Trever, I.e. in n. 41, whose opinion has remained very influen- 
tial among Soviet archaeologists (see, however, a recent refutation by L. A. 
Lelekov, "Voprosy interpretacii sredncaziatskoj koroplastiki ellinisuceskogo vre- 
meni", SA 1985/1, 55-60). S. Wikander also speculated much, but without any 
better grounds, about a long-lasting, influence exerted by the Anahit temple 
founded at Bactra by Artaxerxes II: "Sur le fonds commun indo-iranien des 
epopees de la Perse et de lTnde", La Nouvelle Clio 1-2, 1949-50, esp. pp. 
318-19; followed by G. Dumezil, My the et epopee II 5 , Paris 1982, 233-4. 

147 The only exceptions are the legend "Anahit the Lady" on a coin issued by 
the Sasanian Kusansah Hormizd II (British Museum; unpublished), and the 
Sogdian personal name 'n'xtfintk "Servant of Anahit" (H. Humbach, "Die sogdis- 
chen Inschriftenfunde vom oberen Indus (Pakistan)", Allgemeine und Vergleich- 





one hand, Babylonian Nana, who has kept her role of "Mistress of 
Animals'" and perhaps also certain elements of her mystery-cult; 14S 
and on the other the ancient Iranian goddess Asi (ARDOXSO on 
Kushan coins), protectress of fecundity and dispenser of earthly 
bounty. It seems clear that, despite the initiatives of the last 
Achaemenian kings, eastern Iran had largely escaped the religious 
evolution which, in the West, had brought about the promotion of 
"Anahit", and which resulted in the absorption of Nana in that 
composite figure and in the relative eclipse of Asi. 149 

Nor are any of Nana's clearly defined attributes to be found on 
the female figurines, whereas the Asi-Ardoxso of the Kushan coins, 
despite her prestigious assimilation to Tyche carrying the cornuco- 
pia, keeps points of contact with the types of the terracottas (the 
pose enthroned in majesty, and the ring or crown held in her hand) . 
If one takes into consideration also that the shrine of the crafts- 
men's quarter at Dal'verzintepe testifies to the highly popular 
character at the Kushan period of devotion to Ardoxso 150 , it seems 
likely that this yazata coincides with "the great Bactrian goddess" 
of the figurines, or at least with one group among their variants. 151 
Their attributes are clearly in accord with material fortune; the 
mirror, which the goddess of the figurines perhaps borrowed from 
Aphrodite, can have various symbolic associations but, quite con- 
cretely, befits Asi in so far as she is surety for the beauty of the 
women in the dwelling (Yt. 17.10—1 1). 132 

It is riskier to speculate about the local identification of the 
horseman, for he presents no functional attributes. On the Kushan 
coins the only god portrayed as an Iranian rider is MOZ- 
DOOANO, probably Ahura Mazda; but for the terracotta figur- 
ines a popular image of Mithra cannot be excluded. Both divinities 

ende Archaologie — Beitrage, 2, Miinchen 1980, index), the few occurrences of 
which belong to the 4th— 5th centuries A. C, a period of seemingly strong 
Sasanian religious influence in Sogdiana. 

148 See HZ II 30. 

149 HZ I 72-3, II 203. 

150 See P. Bernard, BEFEO 68, 1980, 331-34 (in a review of Dal'verzintepe, 
ed. G. A. Pugacenkova and E. V. Rtveladze, Tashkent 1978). Also Pugacenkova, 
"Xram Baktrijskoj Bogini na Dal'verzin-tepe", in Drevnij Vostok i mirovaja 
kul'tura, ed. 1. M, D'jakonov, Moscow 1981, 112-17. The goddess, who is 
depicted accompanied by a child, is almost certainly Ardoxso. 

151 Similarly Pugacenkova, "Margianskaja boginja" (art. cit. in n. 86}, 138; "O 
kul'tax Baktrii . . ." (art. cit. in n. 140), 129-30— but here the author attempts to 
link a variant to Anahit. V. N. Pilipko, "2enskie kul'tovye statuetki s beregov 
srednei AmudarM", SA 1977/1, 187—202, endeavours also to split the series into 
several goddesses, on somewhat loose criteria. 

153 Grenet, "L' Athena de Dil'berdzin" (seen. 136), 43-4. 

are associated with Asi in theogonies, the former as father, the latter 
as brother (Yt. 17.16); in the hymns Asi intervenes at Mithra's side, 
and the offerings devoted to the one and the other are said 
to be complementary (ib. 2). LM Apart from the celebrations specifi- 
cally enjoined by the Zoroastrian calendar, everyday devotions 
tended no doubt to be concentrated on two divinities with well- 
marked personalities, one male, the other female, who were felt to 
be especially close to humanity. 

Funerary practices 

The few graves and grave-complexes which date from this pe- 
riod, found mainly at Af Khanum, show great diversity. '** 

In the centre of the town are two mausoleums in the pure Greek 
tradition: the earlier was for a certain Kineas, an officer or magis- 
trate who had presided over the foundation of the city on commis- 
sion from Alexander or Seleucus; the second was for an unknown 
citizen for whom the honour of heroization had been decreed. In 
both mausoleums members of the families were also interred. This 
tradition of intra-muros mausoleums was continued in Parthyene by 
the "philhellenic" Parthian kings (whose necropolis has, it seems, 
been found within the ramparts of their first capital, 
Parthaunisa 155 ). It is not attested thereafter within the Iranian 
sphere 156 , perhaps because it ran counter to the Zoroastrian con- 
cern to keep away from human habitations everything connected 
with death. 

The necropolis properly so called of Ai' Khanum lay in its 
northern suburb. Although the only mausoleum excavated there 
had belonged to a family of Greek colonists 157 , it is hardly to be 
doubted that it was built on a model used also by the well-to-do 
section of the native population. It consists of a squat, but monu- 
mental, structure, with separate vaulted chambers set symmetri- 
cally on both sides of an axial corridor, and a flat roof edged with 

153 "She (Asi) brings ... to him, and comes to the help of him . . . who 
worships Asi with libations [he will worship Mithra with libations]*; Gershevitch, 
AHM, 217-18 n. 68 2 , who however considers the mention of Mithra to be an 
ancient interpolation. According to the same author, Y.60.7 alludes to Mithra and 
Asi as associate benefactors of the worshipper's house (ib., pp. 228-9). 

I5 * Grenet, Pratiques funeraires, 66-78, 249-50. 

^ lb., pp. 89-92, 215. 

The putative tomb of Shabuhr I, founder of Bishapur, was not built within 
the town but set in a cave in the neighbouring mountain: R. Ghirshman, Artibus 
Asiae II, 1948, 292-310; Iran. Parthes et Sassanides, Paris 1962, 162-5. 

,s ' Bernard, CRAI 1972, 606-25. 



stepped merlons in the eastern architectural tradition. The towns- 
people of Kushan Bactria were to remain faithful to this type of 
family mausoleum, and also to its way of use, which diverged 
considerably from the prescriptions of the Zoroastrian canon: the 
corpse, deposited with a few offerings, although isolated indeed 
from the earth by the tomb's masonry, was left to decompose slowly 
and naturally, without the aid of carnivores. 158 At A'i Khanum the 
funerary chambers were emptied when it was wished to clean them, 
and the bones were then collected in jars, sometimes inscribed with 
the dead person's name; but this pious measure is not attested 
thereafter. The basic problem which this way of disposing of the 
corpse poses when it comes to judging the orthodoxy of Bactrian 
Zoroastrianism will be more conveniently considered on the basis 
of materials from the Kushan epoch. Given the existing evidence, it 
is permissible to think that the practice had been preceded by a 
more rigorous one of excarnation by animals 159 ; and one may ask 
oneself whether the hostility of the Greeks towards the "savagery" 
of the Zoroastrian rite, met at Bactra from the very moment of 
conquest, had not been the cause of this break with the past, 
leading the colonists and hellenized Bactrians to agree on a type of 
interment which was acceptable to the former, and which kept for 
the latter the virtue of preserving the purity of the natural "crea- 
tions". Similar compromises over funerary prescriptions were to 
occur at other epochs ? usually in urban settings and under the 
pressure of analogous circumstances: at the beginning of the pres- 
ent century the Zoroastrians of Shiraz. and occasionally those of 
Yazd, placed corpses in funerary chambers lined with stone 
slabs; 160 and from 1937 the Tehran community, under the influence 

l5B The interpretation favoured by Soviet archaeologists, according to which 
the corpses laid in the Kushan mausoleums had been submitted to preliminary 
excarnation. is refuted by Bernard, review quoted in n. J50, pp. 24-7; also 
Grenet, Pratiques funeraires, 98-100, 323-4; id., Abstr. Ir. VII, 14-3; VIII, 119. 
A recent attempt by £. V. Rtveladze (art. cic. in n. 66), although carefully argued, 
fails to produce conclusive evidence against Bernard's criticisms. 

159 Above, pp. 6-8. (The present writer, who does not share his co-author's 
scepticism about the value of Onesicritus' witness nor of Porphynus 1 information, 
had previously sought to interpret the careless burial of a mass of dismembered 
bones in the A'i Khanum theatre in the light of this textual evidence: Grenet, 
Pratiques funeraires, 73-5, 220, 231, 240; also Bernard, CRAI 1978, 439-41. 
Although this hypolhesis cannot be definitely ruled out, it now seems more 
probable, in view of the stratigraphic evidence, that these bones were thrown here 
simultaneously, and testify to a massacre at the moment of the city's downfall, the 
corpses having been left to lie and subsequently gathered by the "squatters" 
merely for hygienic reasons) . 

160 A. V. W. Jackson, Persia Past and Present, 337, 393-4; this information is 
elaborated on by Litvinskij-Sedov, Tepai-sax, 112. 





of the modernizing movement, adopted the custom of having 
cement vaults. lfcl Similar ways of disposing of the corpse, within 
mausoleums sometimes very like the Bactrian type, were to persist 
in western towns of the Parthian empire, where too Hellenistic 
influence had made itself felt. 152 

A possible legacy of the Greek period in the funerary rituals of 
the Bactrians is the "obol of Charon", placed in the corpse's 
mouth. This custom is not attested at Ai" Khanum; but this may be 
by chance, for even in Greece it is known only from a minority of 
graves. 163 

In the south of Sogdiana, in the lower valley of the Kashka- 
darya, the town of Erkurgan (probably the Xenippa captured by 
Alexander) 164 has yielded, for the period of Greek domination or 
immediately thereafter, the poorly preserved remains of what had 
been a massive edifice of unbaked brick (34 X 24 m., h. 8 m.), 
topped by rectangular terraces which were seemingly crenellated 
and paved with stone slabs, and accessible by an external stairway. 
This the excavators interpret as a dakkma, an identification based 
on three observations: the isolated position of the monument to the 
north-west of the town, beyond the rampart; the presence of a few 
human bones and teeth on the small extent of surface where the 
original stone pavement could be traced; and the discovery, on 
another part of the terraces, of a vase in which excarnated bones 
had been collected — a usage destined to become general later 
throughout Central Asia, and which we shall come upon directly 
attested already in Chorasmia. The information so far published 
does not, however, rule out the possibility that these funerary 
remains post-date the period of the structure's functioning. Before a 
detailed publication has appeared, it is not possible to consider the 
Erkurgan monument more fully; but if the purpose postulated for it 
were to be confirmed, this would be the only piece of material 
evidence for Sogdian Zoroastrianism going back to antiquity. Still 

161 Boyce, Zoroastrians, 221. 

162 A systematic, richly illustrated comparison has been drawn by Litvinskij in 
Srednjaja Azija, Kavkaz i zarubeznyj Vostok, ed. B. A. Litvinskij, Moscow 1983, 
81-123 with Pis XXI-XXXVIII; summarized in Litvinskij-Sedov, o.c, pp. 

l * 3 Above, pp. 66-7; F. Grenet, "Burial in Ancient Iran", Elr. IV 559—61. 
Nevertheless, in view of the chronological gap, B. A. Litvinskij considers that one 
might have here independent traditions: see lastly Litvinskij and Sedov, Kul'ty i 
ritualy Kussanskoj Baktrii, Moscow 1984, 150-61. 

164 Above, p. 8 n. 31. On the monument see Grenet, Pratiques funeraires, 
124—5, 229-31, 325; and especially Drevnejsic gosudarstva . . . y o.c. in n. 1 34-, p. 
282 with PL CXXIX/2. Forthcoming study by X. X. Sulejmanov, "L'architecture 
monumentale d'Erkurgan", in Bernard -Grenet (eds.), o.c. in n. 29. 



towards this epoch of the Greek kingdoms the sedentary peoples of 
the oasis of Bukhara kept to the n on- Zoroastrian rite of cremation. L6& 

Beyond Greek domination: the kingdom of Chorasmia 

Further to the north, on the lower Oxus, lay the irrigated plain of 
Chorasmia, once part of the Achaemenian Empire; and on the 
river's left bank, at Kalaly-gyr, a fortified palace has been found, 
decorated in the Persepolis style, which was without doubt the seat 
either of the satrap or of a local prince susceptible to Persian 
influence. 156 But even before the Macedonian conquest these links 
had been broken, and Chorasmia had either regained its indepen- 
dence or, more probably, had been drawn into the orbit of the 
Massagetae tribes of the lower Syr-darya (the Jaxartes). Whichever 
was the case, one Pharasmanes, who called himself "king of the 
Chorasmians", visited Alexander, who made no attempt to impose 
his authority on him; 167 and thereafter there is nothing to suggest 
that the Greco-Bactrians sought anything more than commercial 
relations in that direction. 

Chorasmia is mentioned only once in the Avesta, at the very end 
of the list of countries which Mithra surveys (Yt. 10.14); but 
traditions set down later, in the Pahlavi books, agree, despite their 
divergences, in assigning to it the first seat of the Persian fire 
Farnbag, which the Sasanian clergy were to promote as the fire of 
priests, and hence as the most eminent of the three great fires of 
Iran. 168 The question of the part played by Chorasmia in the early 
history of Zoroastrianism is complex 159 , and it is not very likely that 
archaeologists will manage to shed light on it. Nevertheless, they 
have found there the earliest instances known of interment in 
ossuaries, movable receptacles either reused or specially made for 

m Grenet, o.c, p. 65 (site of Kzyl-Kyr). 

J. A. Rapoport and M. S. Lapirov-Skoblo, in Materialy Xorezmskoj 
Ekspedicii, 6, 1963, 141-56; Rapoport, Iz istorii religii drevnego Xorezma, 
Moscow 1971, 90. 

167 Arrian, Anab. IV. 15.4-6. 

166 lnd.Bd. pp. 41, II. 7-12 (ed. Justi), 63 (tr. West); GBd., ed. T.D. Ankle- 
saria, pp. 124-5 (BTA, pp. 158-60). 

■ 1S9 HZ 14, 17, 275. Lastly Gnoli, ZTH, 84-110; H. Humbach, "About 
Gopatsah, his country, and the Khwarezmian hypothesis", in Papers in honour of 
Professor Mary Boyce, Acta Ir. 24, Leiden 1985, 327-34, who both convincingly 
refute the theory of the identification of Chorasmia and Airyancm Vaejah. The 
Pahl. tradition about the first seat of the Farnbag fire is taken seriously by J. 
Duchesne-Guillemin, "La Religion des Achemenides", Historia 18, 1972, 64, 
while M. Boyce considers it forged in Sasanian times "to give the Persian fire a 
link with the early days of the faith" ("Adur Farnbag", EIr. II 474). 



preserving an individual's bones, previously excarnated. At present 
the oldest in the series are those excavated at Tarym-kaj, dated to 
the fifth-fourth centuries B.C., and set on the western border of 
Chorasmia, at the boundary between nomadic and sedentary 
peoples. 170 Lack of ritual and iconographic details does not allow 
one to be positive about the religious attribution of these earliest 
ossuaries; but the concern to preserve the bones individually leads 
one to suppose stronger eschatological preoccupations than existed 
among the nomadic peoples, who practised simple exposure of 
corpses 171 ; and some of the receptacles herald by their shape those 
which were to be found in Chorasmia at the Sasanian epoch, in a 
more certainly Zoroastrian setting. That Zoroastrian communities 
existed at the remote date in the extreme north of Central Asia is 
thus not wholly lacking in archaeological support. 

Yet the most important funerary monument which has been 
found in ancient Chorasmia has unquestionably nothing to do with 
Zoroastrianism. This is the mausoleum-fortress of Koj-Krylgan- 
kala, situated on the east bank of the Oxus, which has been 
variously dated to from the fourth to the second centuries. 173 Its 
central part, a round tower dominating the middle of a circular 
enclosure, reproduces in its lower storey the plan of the Massagetae 
mausoleums of the Syr-darya; and, though its contents were pil- 
laged in antiquity, it seems likely that it was intended for the burial 
of one of the kings of nomadic origin who appear to have ruled 
Chorasmia at that epoch. 173 Attempts to discern traces of a funeral 
pyre in the remains are not convincing; but the practice of crema- 
tion is attested at other sepulchres in the same region. 174 Presu- 
mably therefore Chorasmia grafted practices and beliefs brought in 
by these nomads on to its local religious stock, which was probably 

17 Grenet, o.c, pp. 214, 221 n. 4. On the possible use as dakhmas of some 
mausoleums on the lower Syr-darya, see ib., pp. 230, 243 n. 9. 

171 Massagetae (Herodotus 1.216; Strabo XI.8.6); Hyrcanians (Cicero, Tuscu- 
lanes, I.45.I08); Caspians (Strabo XI. 11.8); Oritae (Diodorus XVII. 105). 

172 Koj-Krylgan-kala — pamjatnik kul'tury drevnego Xorezma IV v. do 
n.e.-IV v. n.e., ed. S. P. Tolstov and B. I. Vajnberg, Moscow 1967; Rapoport, 
o.c. in n. 166, 43-57; Grenet, Pratiques funeraires, 59-65, 213-15. 

173 The excavators have supposed that the upper storey of che tower was used 
for an astrological cult; but, although some fragments have been found which 
might belong to primitive astrolabes, their argument mainly proves that the 
monument was not initially designed as an observatory, this function — if fulfilled 
at all — being only secondary: M. G. Vorob'eva and M. M. Rozanska, in Tolstov- 
Vajnberg, o.c, pp. 251—64. Further, the existence of a well in the lower storey 
does not allow one to conclude that one half of it was "consecrated i.o Anahita" 
{pace Rapoport; o.c, p. 52; id., in Tolstov-Vajnberg, p. 229). 

1,4 Grenet, I.e. 






The non-Iranian land where Zoroastrian beliefs and observances 
are most fully attested after the downfall of the Achaemenians is 
western Asia Minor. A little of the evidence comes from Seleucid 
and Roman republican times, but most from the Roman imperial 
epoch, down to the fourth century A.C. From then there are a few 
texts, a number of inscriptions, and a good deal of numismatic 
material. Only a few coins exist from the Hellenistic era, but under 
Roman imperial rule most towns of any importance issued their 
own bronze coinage, regularly or at times of festivals and fairs. 
These diverse sources yield, as well as religious materials, a consid- 
erable quantity of Iranian personal names. 1 After the Macedonian 
conquest the fashion grew for Greek names; and there is evidence 
that a number of Iranians, priests as well as laymen, followed this 
trend. Yet still under the Roman Empire a notable scattering of 
Iranian names is to be found; and where these occur in clusters, or 
at places where there are indications of Iranian settlement under 
the Achaemenians, it is reasonable to take them as a sign of the 
continuing existence of Iranian families and communities, main' 
taining even then a conscious Iranian tradition in the strikingly 
multi-racial Anatolian society. 2 Isolated Iranian names have to be 
more cautiously considered, since at any period chance factors may 
have made a particular one generally popular; for instance, the 
fame of Mithradates of Pontus' exploits against Rome led to a 
number of boys being called after him in the Greek cities of Asia 

1 See, particularly, Robert, Noms indigenes. 

2 Parsi society offers a parallel down to the mid 19th century (when a conscious 
revival of Iranian names began). Before then, although many Par sis gave Hindu 
names to their children, some continued to use Iranian ones (though not necessar- 
ily in every generation), and these made their bearers instantly recognizable as 
Zoroastrians. — On the presence of Iranians in Asia Minor generally, under and 
after the Achaemenians, see F. Cumont, TMMM, I 7 3'.; E. Meyer, Ursprung, 
86-91; Wikander, Feuerpriestcr, 80 £; L. Raditsa, "Iranians in Asia Minor", 
CHIr. Ill (i) 100-15, 





Minor. 3 Further, the spread of the Mithraic Mysteries in Roman 
imperial times may have given increased popularity then to the 
name Mithra. 

The survival of evidence as to how far the descendants of 
Achaemenian colonists maintained the Iranian religion depends, it 
seems, partly on chance, partly on what use they made of lasting 
forms of religious expression such as temples, votive inscriptions, or 
coin devices. In Lycia, where a strong Iranian presence is attested 
in the Achaemenian period, with Zoroastrian observance, 4 and 
where Iranian names still occur relatively abundantly in Greco- 
Roman times 5 , there is no trace of Zoroastrianism after the 
Macedonian conquest. Hellespontine Phrygia, with the former 
Achaemenian satrapal capital of Dascylium, likewise yields no- 
thing Zoroastrian after that event. By contrast, in the three regions 
with which the present chapter is concerned- — Lydia, Caria and 
south-west Phrygia — there is relatively abundant evidence for the 
existence of the Iranian religion long after the end of Persian rule. 

These regions differ greatly in their geography and early history, 
but had close physical and cultural links. Of them Lydia, a country 
a little smaller than Wales, lay between inland Phrygia and the 
Ionian coastal plain. 6 High mountain ranges crossed it from east to 
west— -Temnus in the north, Tmolus and Messogis in the centre 
and south — and from these many streams ran down to form broad 
rivers. The four largest of these were, from north to south, the 
Caicus, which flowed past the fortress-city of Pergamum; the 
Hermus, which with its tributaries had the broadest and most 
fertile river-basin in all Asia Minor; the Gayster, commanded at its 
mouth by the great Ionian port of Ephesus; and lastly the Maean- 
der, the longest of them all, near whose mouth stood Magnesia, 
another wealthy Ionian city, which in Hellenistic times was active 
in sending colonists to Iran. There was also a Magnesia in Lydia, 
originally a fortress on a spur of Mount Sipylus which commanded 
the lower Hermus plain, and which gave the name Magnesia-by- 
Sipylus to the city which grew up below it. The Ionian port for this 

3 Cumont, TMMM, I 46. 

4 Cf. HZ II 172-3, 206-8. 

P. Bernard, "Une piece d'armure perse sur un monument lycien", Syria XLI, 
1964, 209-11, who points out that by Roman imperial times (from when most of 
the evidence comes) these men of Iranian stock were completely assimilated into 
Lycian society, in which they continued to play an active and influential role, 
fulfilling diverse important civic functions. See also M. Launey. Armees hellenis- 
tiques, I, 571; Robert, Documents de PAsie Mineure meridionale, 30 ff. 

6 For descriptions of Lydia see Head, BMC Lydia, xvn-xviii; Magie, RR, 35-7, 

area was Smyrna. Roads leading inland from Smyrna and Ephesus 
met at Sardis, the ancient capital of Lydia, which stood in the 
upper Hermus valley. Gold and electrum, washed down hy its 
mountain streams, were part of Lydia's natural wealth. The wide 
river valleys and plains produced abundant crops, and many of the 
mountain slopes were forested. Even the one region which was 
volcanic and treeless— known to the Greeks as "Burnt Lydia" — 
was famous for growing vines. Lydia's other great resource was 
trade. An ancient road had linked Sardis with the Hittite capital of 
Boghazkoy (near Ankara), along which trade passed between 
Lydia and lands further east. Under the Achaemenians this be- 
came part of the Royal Road which ran from their capital of Susa 
west to Sardis. 7 Along its entire length, Herodotus wrote, there 
were then "exceedingly good hostelries, and the whole of it passed 
through country that is inhabited and safe". This great highway 
evidently did much to open up Asia Minor for Iranian colonists, 
groups of them being found all along its course. Another ancient 
trade route which also served them in this way was the Southern 
Highway, which led from Sardis across southern Phrygia and 
southern Cappadocia, down through the Cilician Gates to Syria, 
and thence to Mesopotamia and beyond. 8 This route became of 
prime importance to the Seleucids, since it linked their Syrian 
capital of Antioch to Sardis, which for them, as for the Achaeme- 
nians, was the centre of their power in Asia Minor. 

To the south the Maeander formed Lydia's boundary with 
Caria, which, bordered to the east by a smaller river, the Indus, lay 
in the south-west angle of Asia Minor, with a long coast-line and 
many ports. 9 Of these the most important was its capital, Halicar- 
nassus. Inland it was only locally fertile, much of its territory 
consisting of rugged, pine-forested mountains which shut off the 
deep river-valleys from one another. Some of its rivers were tribu- 
taries of the Maeander, and their courses formed natural ways of 
communication with Lydia. 

7 On the Royal Road see Herodotus V.52-3. For the secondary literature on il, 
in which discrepancies in his account are discussed, see L. D. Dilleman, Haute 
Mesopotamie Orientak, Paris 1962, U7-55; Magie, RR, 786-9; S. F. Starr, 
"The Persian roval road in Turkey", Yearbook of the American Philosophical 
Society, 1962, 62*9-32 and ''Mapping ancient roads in Anatolia", Antiquity 16, 
1963, 162-9 (references which I owe to the kindness of my colleague, Professor A. 
D. H. Bivar). 

a Termed by Ramsay, Geography, 35-43, the Eastern Highway. On it sec also 
Made, RR, 789-93. 

9 On Caria see Head, BMC Caria, xxv-xxvi; Magie, RR, 80-2, 37-8, 50-2; 
and in detail S. Hornblower, Mausolus, 4 ff. 





To the east Lydia marched with south-west Phrygia, whose chief 
town was Celenae. 10 This stood on the western edge of the central 
Anatolian plateau, at a point where the Southern Highway climbed 
up on to it, coming from Sardis. A network of other ancient roads 
met here, bringing to Celenae armies and traders, travellers and 
Iranian colonists — for it was itself a beautiful and prosperous place, 
built on a wooded mountain slope above a fertile plain. It was 
famed also for its rivers, two of which gushed out within the town 
itself One of these was the great Maeander, which, rushing down 
the mountain side, made the first of its celebrated bends on the 
plain below, receiving there as its first tributary the placid Orgas, 
which watered the cornfields and pastures. The other town river 
was the little Marsyas, which dashed down through Celenae to join 
the Maeander. This then, just a little further on, received another 
right-bank tributary, the Therma, gently flowing like the Orgas. 
These four rivers of Celenae were celebrated in antiquity, and are 
to be found on a coin of Roman imperial times associated with 
Iranian Anahit's cult there. 11 The Marsyas was said to take its 
name from the flute-playing Phrygian god who, according to 
legend, was killed and flayed by Apollo; his skin, it was claimed, 
hung in the cave from which the river gushed. 12 Marsyas was 
honoured at other places along the Maeander, and notably at 
Magnesia, whence, it seems, in Hellenistic times, his cult was 
carried by colonists to distant Bactria. 13 

Under the Achaemenians 

Lydia was of great strategic as well as economic importance to 
the Achaemenians, who evidently colonized it strongly. 14 Strabo 
states that the Hyrcanian Plain, stretching along the Hermus' 

For a detailed description see G. Hirschfeld, Kelainai-Apameia-Kibotos, 
Abh. d. koniglichen Akad. d. Wiss. zu Berlin, 1875. (I am indebted to M. Bernard 
for his kindness in lending me a copy of this work.) The vivid account of the town 
given by Ramsay, Cities, II 396 fT., is flawed by his adopting an error of W. J. 
Hamilton's concerning the course of the Maeander, see the study by P. Chuvin, 
"Le chant XIII: La Phrygie" (to appear in a joint work with M. Bernard). I am 
most grateful to M. Chuvin for allowing me to read this in typescript and to draw 
on his admirable analysis. For further bibliography on the city see Magie, RR, 784 
u. 11, 983 n. 18. 

" See below, pp. 244-5. 

12 Herodotus VII. 26, and in more detail Strabo, Anabasis, 1.2.8. Herodotus' 
name for the river Marsyas is Cataractes. 

13 See above, p. 180. 

14 See, notably, the separate studies by L. Robert (cited below by locality); and, 
in summary, P. Briant, Rois, tributs et paysans, 457-3. 



north bank to the west of Sardis, was so called because Hyrcanians 
(from north-eastern Iran) had been settled there. ib The town 
names Hyrcanis and Dareiou Kome ("Village of Darius") in this 
neighbourhood also indicate Iranian colonies; and Iranians are 
known to have held lands in the valley of the Caicus in north Lydia. 
Some of the colonists were presumably garrison-troops and cx- 
soldiers, given lands to farm. There were also Persian governors 
and administrators, some of whom settled permanently, founding 
families, in this rich and pleasant land. An indication of the feudal 
way in which such Iranian nobles lived is given by Xenophon in his 
account of a raid which he himself led against one of them, a certain 
Asidates, whose fortified manor-house was in the Caicus valley. 15 
Asidates had armed retainers as well as many slaves; and when the 
Greeks attacked, a fire was lit to raise the alarm. This brought to 
his aid an Iranian neighbour leading his own body of retainers, and 
some official forces, who beat off the Greeks. This incident suggests 
that there were a number of Persians in that area (as presumably in 
other such fertile regions of Lydia), and that they kept in touch 
with one another, and with the local Persian administrators. 

As to the religious lives of these Iranian expatriates, it appears 
that they held to their ancestral religion, which was part of their 
culture and imperial identity. Hence with each group of colonists 
and in each noble household the presence may be assumed of 
Zoroastrian priests, needed for essential rites and acts of worship. 
Such priests would clearly have had their differences in social 
standing, and presumably also in ethnic origins. The nobles' chap- 
lains are likely to have been Persian and Median magi, among 
them men of learning and influence who would naturally have held 
themselves superior to village priests; while some of the latter were 
probably of Bactrian or Hyrcanian stock, their forefathers having 
come with the original settlers from eastern Iran. Despite such 
diversity, analogies with what is known later of the organisation of 
the Zoroastrian priesthood suggest that local priestly colleges must 
have evolved to arrange for the training and ordination of priests, 
the celebration of communal festivals, and general questions of 
discipline, dues and observances. In all this one would expect 
Persian influence to have prevailed under socially dominant Per- 
sian priests. 

For the early Achaemenian period the religion has left no mater- 
ial traces, since down to the first half of the fifth century it still 

15 XIII.4.13. 

16 Anabasis, VII.viii.9-23, on which see L. Robert, Hellenics VI, 1948, 6 n. 2; 
CRAI 1975, 322; J. et L. Robert, Fouilles d'Amyzon, 116. 





rejected temples and cult images. This is confirmed for western 
Asia Minor by Herodotus, himself a native of Halicamassus in 
Caria: still in his day, he says, Persians worshipped in the open, 
preferably in high places. 17 The first Zoroastrian temple to be built 
in Asia Minor was probably one founded in Lydia in honour of 
Anahit, whose worship was greatly promoted, it seems, by Darius 
II and his queen Parysatis.' 8 This temple's founder is said to have 
been "Cyrus", presumably, that is, their son, Cyrus the Younger, 
who was satrap of Lydia from 407 to 401; 19 and it stood some 32 
km. to the north-west of Sardis, his official seat, at a place known as 
Hiera Kome, "Sacred Village". (This Greek name was given to a 
number of centres of habitation that grew up around shrines. 20 ) 

The site of the Zoroastrian Hiera Kome was in the valley of the 
Hyllus, a large right-bank tributary of the Hermus which, lower 
down, formed the eastern boundary of the Hyrcanian Plain. 21 The 
Hyllus now bears the Turkish name of Kumcay, "River of Sand", 
because in summer its waters dry up over much of its course. By the 
site of Hiera Kome there is not a drop of moisture to be seen then in 
the wide river-bed, although villages on the further bank, having 
winter-fed sources of water, are luxuriantly green with trees, gar- 
dens and flourishing crops. The sanctuary itself, on the left bank, 
stood on a long low hill, where temple-remains of the Roman 
period are still to be seen; but the site has been extensively plun- 
dered for building materials, and most of the finds of inscribed 
stones have been made in the villages opposite, imbedded in 


lB See HZ II 201 ff.; and on Anahit add Boyce, "The Lady and the Scribe: some 
further reflections on Anahit and Tir", A Green Leaf, Papers in honour of J. P. 
Asmussen, Acta Ir, 28, 1988, 277-S2. Pace Gnoli, followed by Briant, o.c. ? pp. 
458-9, there seem no good grounds for regarding the promotion of Anahit as 
politically motivated, cf. HZ II 30 n. 98. 

19 So M. P. Nilsson, commenting on Tacitus, Annals III. 62, see apud Wikan- 
der, Feuerpriester, 85 n. 2, and cf. HZ II 201—2. Some scholars still argue for an 
identification of the temple's founder as Cyrus the Great, and it is very probable 
that in Greco-Roman times its priests allowed such an obviously useful confusion 
to develop. But it is unthinkable that the Carian Herodotus would not have heard 
of a famous temple founded by Cyrus the Great near Sardis, or that, hearing of it, 
he would nevertheless have slated that the Persians had no temples. This point 
appears to have been overlooked by Briant, ox., p. 459 n. 182. 

*° For some other Hiera Rome's of western Asia Minor see Ramsay, Cities, 132 
n. 3 with 584 n. 3; J. et L. Robert, Fouilles d'Amyzon, 100, and La Carie II 295; 
Debord, Aspects sociaux, 393 n. 97. — On the early form of the name of Cyrus' 
foundation, written thus in two words, see Robert, "Bull, ep.", REG 89, 1976, 
542-3, For a sketch map of the region by H. Kiepert, showing Hiera Kome 
(Hierocaesarea) and Sardis, see apud Robert, BCH CVI 1982, 336 fig. 6. 

" For a bibliography of the site see Robert, Hellenica VI, 1948, 28-9 with nn. 
The following description is taken from there, p. 29 ff. 


various structures. It may at first sight seem strange that a place 
such as this, for so long annually without sight of water, should 
have been a shrine to a river-goddess; but there is mystery and 
drama in the change by which a dry bed of sand brims again 
yearly: and Iran itself provides a parallel with the shrine near Yazd 
of Banu-Pars, the "Lady of Pars" (a local cult-name for Anahit); 22 
for that too is by a river-bed which is annually dry for many 
months, in its case a rocky channel which seasonally becomes filled 
with a torrent rushing off the bare mountains — again a majestic 
phenomenon that could be seen as declaring the power of a river- 

The shrine to Banu-Pars is high in a mountain-valley; and the 
ridge by the Hyllus was also in its modest way a high place, well 
suited for traditional Zoroastrian worship; so it may have come to 
be regarded as sacred by Iranian colonists even before Anahit's 
new temple was built there. With his well-attested piety and 
liberality, Cyrus may safely be assumed to have endowed this 
temple with lands, like the Lydian temples of other religions; and 
even though he himself, in the few years of his governorship, could 
have done little to increase his initial benefactions, there is small 
doubt that royal patronage of Hiera Kome was continued by his 
mother, the Dowager-Queen Parysatis, who did all she could after 
his death to honour his memory. 23 

As a rebel prince who died young, Gyrus had not the reputation 
or standing of his elder brother, Artaxerxes II, who was Great King 
for nearly half a century (404-358); and it is to the latter that 
Berossus attributed the introduction of statues of "Aphrodite Anai- 
tis", saying that he had them set up in various cities of his empire, 
including Sardis. 24 No temple to Anahit has yet been found, how- 
ever, by excavators of the Lydian capital; and the likelihood is that 
Berossus used that city's name only as a point of reference, to 
indicate that Artaxerxes had founded an Anahit temple in its 
vicinity. 25 This supposition receives support from the fact that there 
was another great Anahit shrine near Sardis which for centuries 
rivalled that of Hiera Kome in fame and privilege. This was at 
Hypaipa, a small town 25y km. to the south-west of Sardis, on a 
road that led round the flank of Mount Tmolus and down into the 

32 See Boyce, "Bibl Shahrbanu and the Lady of Pars" 
30-44; Stronghold, 248-55; "Banu-Pars'. Elr. Ill 717-18. 

23 Cf. HZ II 218. 

24 Bk. Ill frg. 65 (cf. HZ II 217). 

25 Cf. Adur Gusnasp, said to be "in' 
Atropatene (above, p. 75). 

BSOASXXX, 1967, 

when apparently only near Ganzak in 





Cayster valley, and so to Ephesus. 26 Iranians are thought to have 
been settled there early in Achaemenian times to guard this impor- 
tant road, cultivating farms also in the fertile valley below. 

Hypaipa was built on both sides of a deep ravine, which in 
summer was dry, but at other seasons received a torrent of water off 
the mountain-side above. Remains have been found of a great 
colonnaded temple (known from inscriptions of Greco-Roman 
times to have been dedicated to Anahit) that stood high above the 
ravine; 2 ' and this temple, which would have been visible to all who 
travelled the much-frequented road between Ephesus and Sardis, 
became famous, it seems, among Greeks. It was presumably be- 
cause of it that Anahit (sometimes identified as the Persian Arte- 
mis) came to be called the "goddess of Tmolus", as is attested by a 
citation from the little-known poet Diogenes (held to have lived at 
the time of Artaxerxes II). His verses run: "I hear that . . . the 
Lydian, and the Bactrian maidens dwelling beside the Halys river, 
worship the goddess of Tmolus, Artemis, in her laurel-shaded 
grove the while they, 'mid plucking of triangles and pectides, thrum 
the magadis in responsive twanging, where also the flute, in Persian 
fashion, joins its welcome concord to the chorus." 28 (Down to 
modern times it has been customary for girls in traditional Zoroast- 
rian centres of Iran to visit shrines in groups on holy days, and to 
sing and make music there, for merry-making is a part of all 
Zoroastrian festivals. 29 ) This temple of Anahit may have helped to 
make Hypaipa itself widely known; and later Ovid (who died in 1 7 
A.C.) wrote of the steep-sloped summit of Tmolus, with Sardis on 
one flank and "little Hypaipa" on the other. 30 

Three other temples to Anahit are known in Lydia, all, it is to be 
inferred from surviving data, founded under the Achaemenians; 
but since the data themselves come from Greco-Roman times, these 

26 For descriptions of the site see S. Reinach, Chroniques d'Orient, 146-67; L. 
Robert, "Types monetaires a Hypaipa de Lydie", RN XVIII, 1976, 25-8. 
21 See Reinach, ox., pp. 146-7; G. Weber, REG V, 1892, 8-10. 

28 Athenaeus, Deipnosophists, XI V.636; cited by von Gutschmid, Kl.Schriften, 
III 264; Wilcander, Feuerpriester, 84; Robert^ art. cit., p. 30 n. 24j Fouilles 
d'Amyzon, 115 n. 147. For the Bactrian maidens by the Halys see, tentatively, 
below, p. 271. 

29 Cf. Boyce, Stronghold, 90-1. Pace Wikander, o.c, p. 85, there are no 
grounds for supposing that Diogenes was referring to temple priestesses. Antio- 
chus I of Commagene appointed professional women musicians to play on feast 
days at the kkrothesia which he established, see below, p. 341. 

30 Metamorphoses XI. 150-2, cited by Reinach, o.c, p. 150; Robert, RN 
XVIII, 35 with n. 51. Hypaipa must also have had its importance as a staging 
post and garrison town; and the road leading to it passed out of Sardis by the 
"Hypaipa Gate", see Robert. I.e. 

temples — at Saricam, Golmermere and Philadelphia — will be con- 
sidered later. 31 Very probably they were established by noble 
Iranian families of Lydia, vying with one another to follow royal 
example and patronize the new cult; and, like the temples at Hicra 
Kome and Hypaipa, they were to flourish for centuries, providing 
imposing religious centres for the Zoroastrian community and 
livelihoods for a considerable body of priests. 

In orthodoxy Anahit's cult, as that of a lesser yazaia, was strictly 
subordinate to the worship of Ahura Mazda; and this worship, it seems , 
is attes ted in Sardis itself. There in 365 the satrap consecrated a statue of 
"Zeus Baradates", a name thought to be a semi-grecisized rendering of 
Ahuramazda *Baradata, the "Lawgiver". 32 This statue was evidently 
set within a shrine, for the satrap ordered "the attendant temple-priests 
who have the right to enter the sanctuary and who crown the god not to 
to take part in the mysteries of Sabazios, of those who carry the 
victims to be burnt, and of Angodistes and Ma". The prohibition 
gives some indication of the religious diversity in Achaemenian 
Sardis. The city's chief divinity then was Artemis, whose cult had, 
it seems, been brought there originally from Ephesus under Lydian 
kings. (A Sardian relief of about 400 B.C. shows her holding a deer, 
the cult animal of Ephesian Artemis. 33 ) In Achaemenian times this 
goddess was still worshipped in Sardis in an uncovered precinct; 3 ' 1 
and a massive altar of the Hellenistic period, which stood there, 
was found to enclose an older one which has been dated on stylistic 
grounds to between 525 and 500. 35 This, it has been suggested, may 
be the "altar of Artemis" in Sardis of which Xenophon has Cyrus 
the Younger speak. 16 Also within the precinct were two Lydian 
inscriptions of the Achaemenian period, recording a contract be- 
tween a priest and the Artemis-shrine. 37 This presumably Lydian 
priest, like his father before him, bore an Iranian name honouring 

31 See below, p. 216 f. (Saricam), p. 215 f. (Philadelphia) and p. 218 
(Golmermere) . 

32 Robert, "Une nouvelle inscription grecque de Sardes", CRAI, 1975, 306-31 
(cited in HZ II 255-6). Against the attempt by P. Frei to see in "Zeus Baradates" 
a local or a Greek god see P. Briant, "Les iramens d'Asie Mineure apres la chute 
de 1'empire achemenide", Dialogues d'histoire ancienne, 1985, 189 n. 13. 

33 See G. M. A. Hanfmann, Sardis, 91. In this book an assimilation at some 
stage between Anatolian Artemis and Anaitis Artemis is postulated or simply 
assumed, see pp. 104, 121, 129—30, and further Hanfmann, "The Sacrilege 
Inscription: The ethnic, linguistic, social and religious situation at Sardis at the 
end of the Persian era", BAI n.s. I, 1987, 5. No evidence for this is adduced, other 
than the statement by Berossus. 

34 See Hanfmann, o.c., p. 49 ff. 

35 lb., pp. 51, 120-1. 
3e Anabasis, 

37 W. E. Mierse apud Hanfmann, o.c, p. 104. 



Mithra: "Mitridasta, son of Mitrata". 38 Whether in choosing these 
particular names this family was paying respect to the Zoroastrian 
divinity, or perhaps showing courtesy to Persian patrons, or merely 
following prevailing fashion, it is impossible to tell. The name 
"Mitrata" occurs again on a Lydo- Persian seal from Sardis, 39 and 
"Mithradates" is attested there, as well as "Mithres", repeatedly. 40 
A parallel to this use of Iranian names by the Sardian priests of 
Artemis is provided by priests of the mother-shrine at Ephesus, 
which is known to have enjoyed Persian patronage. 41 There the high 
priest, around 400 B.C., was called Megabyzos, a Greek rendering 
of Iranian *Bagabukhsa, "'Satisfying/serving the god",* 2 the god 
in question being clearly Artemis. The name Megabyzos is re- 
corded elsewhere in western Asia Minor as a personal one in the 
Hellenistic period; 43 but in Roman imperial times it is found in use 
at Ephesus as a generic title for Artemis' high priests. 44 This usage 
evidently goes back to the Achaemenian period, with, presumably, 
a long line of priests all bearing a family name that had become 
hereditary with the office. 45 — In general the adoption of Iranian 
names by Anatolian priests suggests amiable relations between 
them and the Persians, probably helped by generous benefactions 
to religious foundations by the latter. The occurrence of other 
Iranian names in the not very numerous Lydian inscriptions sug- 
gests that they were "relatively often used among the Lydians in 
various circumstances of life, in the capital just as in the country, 
which is without any doubt an indication how strong the Persian 
influence in Lydia must have been"'. 46 

38 L. Zgusta, "Iranian uames in Lydian inscriptions", Charisteria Orientalia 

?raecipue ad Persiam pertineutia, Festschrift J. Rypka, ed. F. Tauer and others, 
rague 1956, 398; R. Gusmani, "Onomastica iranica nei testi epicorici Lidi". 
Umanita e storia, Scritti in onore di A. Attisani II, Naples 1971, 5, 7-9; R. 
Schmitt, "Altiranische Mithranamen", fit.mithriaques, 399-400; 408-9. 

39 Mierse, o.c, p. 105. 

40 Hanfmann, o.c. ; p. 127; Robert, BGH CVI, 1982, 364. 

41 Tacitus, Annals, 111.64. In the 4th century B,C. the satrap Tissaphernes 
offered sacrifice at the shrine (Thucydides, 8.109); and when an Athenian fleet 
threatened Ephesus and he gathered an army for its defence, he is said to have 
done so -with orders "for all to come to Ephesus, to the aid of Diana" (Xenophon, 
Hellenica, 1.2.6.) - 

4 Xenophon, Anabasis, V.iii.6— 7. On the name see Benveniste, Titres et noms 
propres, 108—13, and on the first element cf. above, p. 112 n. 235. 

* s In the inscription of Priene (F. Hiller von Gaertringen, Inschriften von 
Priene, Berlin 1906, p. 5 no. 3, see Robert, Hellenica X.I-XII, I960, 458 no. 7); 
Thucvdides, 1.109.3. 

** Strabo XIV. 1.23, Appian V.9. 

45 Cf. the Parsi Meherji Ranas, who have been high priests at Navsari in 
Gujarat in unbroken succession since the first Meherji Rana was invested with 
that office at the time of Akbar, the name since then going with the position. 

46 Zgusta, art. cit. in n. 38, p. 400. 



Apart from the inscriptional evidence for the worship of "Zeus 
Baradates", the only other testimony to a Zoroastrian presence in 
Achaemenian Sardis is that provided by the winged-circle motif, 
occurring on seals and gold plaques excavated there; 47 for though 
this emblem appears to represent "fortune" only, that is, khvarenah, 
it was an important part of the religio- political symbolism used by 
the Achaemenians. 49 An attempt to identify an ancient altar in 
Sardis as a Zoroastrian fire-holder appears ill-founded. 49 

The satrapal capital of Achaemenian Caria was Halicarnassus, 
and there are traces of Persian presence elsewhere on its coastal 
plain (including, repeatedly, the proper name Megabates). 50 In the 
fourth century Tissaphernes, satrap of Lydia, had an estate in 
inland Caria; 51 and the names Bagadates and Ariaramnes occur at 
that time in a family in the small town of Amyzon in north-west 
Caria. " No Zoroastrian traces survive, however; and culturally the 
most striking aspect of Carian life under the later Achaemenians 
was its rapid hellenization. During the last half-century of Persian 
rule the satraps, of the native family of the Hekatomids, governed 
virtually as independent dynasts. They enjoyed great wealth, 
which they were eager to display, and were ardent hellenizers. In 
about the mid fourth century one of them, possibly the famous 
Mausolus (377-353), built an imposing hilltop sanctuary at 
Amyzon to a divinity venerated there by the name of Artemis — 
probably, it is suggested, an ancient nature goddess, queen of the 

47 See Mierse apud Hanfmann, Sardis, 104, 105. 

48 See, with references, HZ II 100 ff., and above, p. 104. 

49 Mierse apud Hanfmann, o.c, p. 104, deduced that in the Persian period the 
altar of Cybele, standing in an open precinct in Sardis, was "transformed into a 
[Zoroastrian] fire altar", because it was then rebuilt, and the little stone lions 
which had apparently stood at its four comers, representing Cybele's cult animal, 
were immured within the new stonework (see ib., figs. 49, 52). But the rebuilt altar 
could not have been used as a Zoroastrian fire-holder (on whose form and function 
see HZ II 51-3) because 1) it stood in the open, unprotected, and 2) in the ashes 
on it were found earth, charred bone and horn (see Hanfmann, o.c, pp. 36-7), an 
impossibly polluting mixture for a Zoroastrian sacred fire. — A Zoroastrian "fire- 
altar" has also been seen in an object represented on an Ionian coin of perhaps 
C-400 B.C., and in a similar one on a coin of Mvndus in Caria of the Hellenistic 
period, see Head, BMC Ionia, p. 324, and BMC Caria, p. 137 no. 33; Wikander, 
Feuerpriester, 86. This interpretation was based, however, on a comparison of this 
"pyramidal structure of three stages with a flight of steps on the right" with one of 
the open-air plinths at Pasargadae (cf. HZ II 52, 53); but although it — or rather 
the other one of the Pasargadae pair — may have beeu used to support a fire- holder 
set on it for ceremonial purposes, it could clearly not itself have been used, with its 
flat top, as a receptacle for lire, and it is difficult to see therefore how it could have 
acquired any iconographic significance in the fire-cult, such as would have led to 
its representation in this connection on coins. 

50 Hornblower, Mausolus, 26 with n. 155. 

51 Xenophon, Hellenica, III. 2. 12, see Hornblower, o.c, p. 7. 

52 See below, pp. 210-11. 



forests which so thickly clothed the mountains round about. The 
sanctuary appears to have been built as a harmonious whole, with 
terraces, stairway, entrance-gate, temple, fountain, enclosing wall, 
and perhaps a theatre, all of white marble — a Carian shrine in 
Greek guise. 53 

Phrygian Celenae, with its trading links down the valleys of the 
Maeander and Hermus with Ionia, likewise underwent early helleni- 
zation; but, standing as it did on the Southern Highway, it also 
attracted Iranian interest and settlement. Xerxes led his great 
army by Celenae on his march to Greece; 54 and on his return after 
Salamis he rested there, and built a citadel and palace. 55 Later a 
second Achaemenian palace was built above the town, and a 
"paradesos" was made, a great walled park for hunting, through 
which the Maeander flowed, Here Cyrus the Younger pursued the 
chase and exercised his horses. 56 Presumably there was an Iranian 
quarter in the town, and Persian nobles were granted estates in the 
countryside around; for still in Roman imperial times Iranian 
names are attested there. 57 From that epoch too comes numismatic 
evidence for the existence of a temple to Anahit, 58 founded, it is 
reasonable to suppose, under the Achaemenians. A place of such 
dramatically appearing and abundant waters, and one favoured 
moreover by the younger Cyrus, was one where her worship 
appears destined to thrive. 


The evidence, though sparse, thus suffices to show that south- 
west Anatolia under Achaemenian rule had, locally, a considerable 
Iranian population and underwent strong Iranian influence. Zo- 
roastrianism, as the religion of the ruling power, clearly enjoyed a 
privileged position, and its adherents were able when they chose to 
found well-endowed temples in prominent places. Iranians would 
undoubtedly have been encouraged to visit these sanctuaries, thus 
fostering communal ties; and the erecting of sacred buildings which 
rivalled or eclipsed those of other local religions may well have been 
for many of them a source of pride and satisfaction. These temples, 

See L. Robert, "Le sanctuaire d'Artemis a Amyzon' 
J. ct L. Robert, Fouilles d' Amyzon. 
J 4 Herodotus, VII.26. 
53 Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.2.9. 
s * lb., 1.2.7-8. 

5 ' Robert, Noms indigenes, S4&-50; see below, p. 245. 
58 See below, pp. 244-5. 

CRAI 1953, 403-15; 



with their endowments and trained bodies of priests, must have 
been an important element in the long survival of Zoroastrianism 
in the region. Yet the innovation was probably in some respects 
detrimental, for it gave it a greater similarity in observance to other 
religions there, and so made some degree of gradual assimilation to 
them all. the more possible. 

Under the Macedonians 

For the Iranians of western Anatolia, long settled in their 
adopted land, Alexander's conquest must have been as harsh a 
blow as for their kinsmen in Iran itself, displacing them as it did 
from the enviable position of the imperial people, and bringing 
death and sorrow to their community. Many Anatolian Iranians 
must have fallen at Granicus; but Lydia was at least spared 
devastation, for in the shock that followed the great battle Sardis 
surrendered without a blow. Its Persian military commander, 
Mithrenes, went out to meet the Macedonian, 59 and after submit- 
ting was confirmed in the honours due to his rank and accompan- 
ied Alexander on his subsequent campaigns. Other Iranians 
evidently behaved with equal pragmatism; and, however much 
individuals may have suffered, the expatriate community as a 
whole seems to have recovered and continued life much as before. 
The more fortunate nobles kept their estates and still enjoyed local 
esteem; 60 and since the villages and small towns of western Anato- 
lia were in general ethnically constituted, most of the humbler 
Iranians presumably went on living largely as before, paying taxes 
to new masters but otherwise keeping their own traditional ways, 
like the Lydians, Carians, Phrygians and others around them. 
Among these, however, there were now Macedonian settlers, the 
new elite. 

Like other Anatolians, Iranian villagers probably also went on 
speaking their own ancestral tongue among themselves for 
generations. 51 For the nobles, leading magi, and Iranian citizens of 
towns like Sardis or Celenae, matters were evidently different in this 
respect. Many of them probably knew some Greek even before the 

59 Arrian, Anabasis, 1.17.3. On this act of Mithrenes, and his further career, sec 
Briant, art. cit. in n. 32, p. 168. 

w E.g., the case of Mardonios of Apollonia-Tripolis, below, p. 216. 

61 On the slow, though steady, spread of Greek among the rural population of 
western Asia Minor see Ramsay, Geography, 98-9; JHS X, 1889, 216. Although 
Lydian had died out in Lydia itself by the 2nd cent. A.C.. it was then still spoken 
in Cibyra, along -with PisidUn and Greek. Carian was hy then dead, see Horn- 
blower, Mausolus, II, and cf. ib., pp. 343^. 





Macedonian conquest, and others clearly already had a fluent 
command of that language; 62 and now it seems gradually to have 
become the domestic speech of urban dwellers and the educated 
generally. Greek, not Aramaic, is the only recorded written lan- 
guage of the Iranians of western Anatolia in Greco- Roman times. 

This development would have had no direct effect on the reli- 
gious lives of Zoroastrians, since the sacred tongue, used in public 
and private worship, was Avestan, and would have continued to be 
so whatever the vernacular spoken by the local community. All the 
holy texts, still orally transmitted, were likewise in Avestan; but it 
is very possible that, as generations passed, a zand, that is, exegesis 
and commentary with perhaps some translation, developed in 
Greek (as later among the Parsis, another expatriate Zoroastrian 
community, there came to be partial zands in Sanskrit and Gujar- 
ati). It is also possible that, with the pressures of a dominant 
literary culture all around them, the priests in time wrote down 
some of this Greek ^tznrf. There is even reference in the second 
century A.C. to the use of a book in temple worship at Hypaipa, 
with the statement that what was read from it was in an unknown 
barbaric tongue, presumably, that is, Avestan. The complex ques- 
tions which this raises will be considered later. 63 

The fact that cultured Iranians in these regions adopted Greek as 
their mother-tongue has some importance, however, for the general 
history of religions, for this brought them into easy communication 
with others around them, in an epoch which was to see far-reaching 
religious developments. Zoroastrians were now able here to make 
some of their leading doctrines more widely known, and so to 
contribute to those developments. Conversely, they became them- 
selves more open to influence by other religions, and to attraction 
by different forms of worship. 

Evidence of an Iranian family succumbing early to such attrac- 
tion comes from Caria, in an inscription from the hilltop sanctuary 
of ''Artemis" at Amyzon. This is dated to the fourth year of Philip 
Arrhidaeus (who succeeded his half-brother, Alexander, in 323), 
and is almost complete. The last five lines run; "... it has pleased 
the Amyzonians in open assembly, at the proposal of Asandros, 
that Bagadates, whom the oracle of Delphi had shown to him, 
should be the neokoros of Artemis, because he is devoted to the 
sanctuary; that citizenship of the city should be given to Bagadates 
and to his son Ariarames, exemption from all imposts, and pri- 


vileged places; and that they should share . . .". 64 Asandros was the 
Macedonian satrap of Caria, who thus had recourse to Apollo's 
oracle, as the supreme religious authority, 65 before putting his 
proposal — virtually a command — to the citizens of Amyzon, thai 
they should appoint an Iranian as neokoros of their imposing shrine. 
This dignified position was that of lay warden, and entailed ensur- 
ing the upkeep of the temple, and supervising, under the authority 
of the high priest, the celebration of worship and maintenance of 
order. (The Zoroastrians seem to have taken over for some at least 
of their temples this custom of having a lay warden, the most 
famous instance being that of the Sasanians, hereditary wardens of 
Anahit's temple at Istakhr.) Bagadates was evidently a man of 
wealth and standing, prominent enough in Carian society to secure 
the interest of Asandros; and he must have been active in the affairs 
of the sanctuary already under the Hekatomids. It is suggested that 
he had probably first been drawn to the worship of this Artemis, 
goddess of mountain and forest, as a pious Zoroastrian, seeing in 
her a manifestation of the "Persian Artemis", that is, of Anahit. 66 
Anahit was regularly "interpreted" in Anatolia as an Artemis 
rather than an Aphrodite, that is, as a fertility goddess, presumably 
because she was worshipped predominantly as a river- divinity, 
hence as a source of fecundity. 67 Bagadates could hardly have long 
reconciled his duties at the Amyzon shrine with even private 
devotions to Anahit; and his seems a clear case of a falling away 
from the faith. Iranian colonists were relatively few in Caria, so 
that there was not the support there of a large community of 
Zoroastrian fellow-worshippers. The seduction too of the lavishly 
endowed cult of Amyzon Artemis, with its beautiful setting and 
shrine, must have been considerable, and participation in it clearly 
brought striking social advantages. 68 The naming with Bagadates 
of his son, and the conferring of the same privileges on them both, 
suggests that the office of neokoros was intended to be hereditary in 
their family; and that this intention was fulfilled is shown by 
another inscription of soon after 203, 69 in which the temple neokoros 
is named as "Arieramnes", a descendant evidently of the "Aria- 

See below, p. 373. 
See below, pp. 236-8. 

w J. et L. Robert, Fouilles d' Amyzon, Inscription no. 2, pp. 97-8. 
6i Subsequently under the Seleucids (who claimed Apollo as their ancestor) this 
god was associated with "Artemis' at Amyzon, see ib.. pp. 140-1. 

66 lb., p. 116. 

67 Against suggestions thac Anatolian Artemis was herself worshipped in Lydia 
as a goddess of water see Robert, RN XVIII, 1976, 4:6 n. 97. 

68 On his as an example of the integration of an Iranian noble into Hellenic 
society see Briant, art. cit. in n. 32, pp. 169-71. 

fi9 See J. et L. Robert, Fouilles d' Amyzon, pp. 195-6 (inscription no. 18). 




rames" of the first inscription, who had flourished over a hundred 
years earlier. 70 

In Lydia and Phrygia the Zoroastrian temples, though still 
relatively new institutions in the long history of the faith, must have 
been of especial value to it now when it had lost imperial support, 
since through them, as public centres of worship, it could at least 
enjoy the same recognition and patronage as other religions in the 
land. Alexander himself, with money flowing in from other sources, 
and with western Anatolia submissive, had no cause to harry 
temples there; and he is in fact known to have confirmed the 
sanctuary privileges of the shrine of Sardian Artemis, 71 and to have 
extended those of Artemis of Ephesus. 72 Thereafter, succeeding 
conquerors continued his — and the Achaemenians' — policy of be- 
nevolence towards holy places; and far from suffering diminution 
of dignity or wealth, the great Lydian temples, of whatever dedica- 
tion, had their former rights and privileges confirmed, and seem 
steadily to have increased their ownership of land through pur- 
chase, gifts and bequests. 73 "The line of development" (it has been 
observed) "was not one of reduction but of increase. . . . The 
accumulation of holdings by the medieval church affords a striking 
analogy". 7 * The larger temples had considerable commercial inter- 
ests, and acted not only as landowners but as banks, lending money 
or receiving it into safe-keeping; and thriving towns came into 
being around them, with mixed populations and interests. Gradu- 
ally in Hellenistic times such towns followed the example of Greek 
cities by beginning to elect magistrates and hold civic meetings. 75 
Such developments inevitably increased the pressures of cultural 
hellenization, and tended in time to diminish the authority ol the 
temple and its high priest. 70 

Although these facts can be deduced for the history of temples 
generally in this region, evidence for individual shrines in the 



70 SeeJ. et L. Robert, o.c, p. 196, ci". p. 113 n. 136 (on the name Ariaramnes 
and its recorded forms). 

71 Tacitus, Annals, III. 61. 

72 Strabo XIV. 1.23. 

73 See T. R. S. Broughton, ''New evidence on temple-estates in Asia Minor", 
Studies in Roman economic and social history in honour of A r C. Johnson, ed. 
P. R. Coleman-Norton and others, Princeton University Press, 1951, 236-50; 
T. Zawadzki, "Quelques remarques sur l'elendue et I'accroissement des domaines 
des grands temples en Asie Mineure", EOS, Commentarii Polonorum Societatis 
Philologae, 46, 1952-1953, 83-96. Further references apud Magie, RR, II 
1016-17, nn. 62, 63; and add Debord, Aspects sociaux. 

74 Broughton, art. cit., p. 247. 

75 Hansen, Attalids, 179" Magie, RR. 139-42. 

76 Debord, o.c, pp. 52-3, 168-9. 

Hellenistic period is sporadic and sparse. One reason (or this i that 
south-west Anatolia is much subject to earthquakes so that lev, 
ancient buildings or monuments survive. Another is that the region 
had its share of the man-made devastation brought by the Succes- 
sors' Wars and the dynastic struggles which followed. In 319 
Antigonus seized Lydia from its Macedonian satrap; and when he 
fell at Ipsus it passed with most of Asia Minor to Lysimachus. He 
deposited a large amount of the treasure he had gamed in charge ol 
Philataerus, son of Attains, at Pergamum, the almost impregnable 
hill-fort near the mouth of the Caicus; and this was the foundation 
of the wealth of the Attalid dynasty/ 8 In 282 Philataerus trans- 
ferred his allegiance to Seleucus, fighting on his side at Corupedion, 
and when Seleucus was murdered he remained loyal to his son 

Antiochus I. 79 ... ^a +u<* 

During his time of rule in Asia Minor Antiochus pursued the 
general policy of founding new cities with settlers, and 
reconstituting old ones in Greek form. After Corupedion Sardis as 
the capital of the western third of the Seleucid Empire grew 
thoroughly hellenized, while among Lydian places of Iranian 
settlement that received Macedonian colonists was Hyrcanis, 
whose inhabitants were presumably wholly or predominantly Ira- 
nian by origin. 80 Nor were they now wholly submerged but seem to 
hale imeto terms with their new neighbours for hereafter th 
townspeople there were known jointly as "Macedones Hyrcanio. . 

Z Phrygia Antiochus himself refounded Celenae renaming t^n 
honour of his Iranian mother, Apamea. It is thought *at he may 
have named this particular foundation ^ V, -clnae had 
number of Iranians there, and its temple to Anahit C«W had 
successfully withstood siege by Alexander,- but had suffered the 
winter quartering on it of troops by Eumenes in 32 and ubse 
quently by Antigonus.- Now Antiochus abandoned th old citadel 
and developed his new town on the gentler lower slopes Ihe 
IrTnian colonials were presumably incorporated into the cit.zenry 

77 Cf. above, pp. 18, 24. 

78 See in detail Hansen, Attalids. 

» See Lto^'p! V," and Robert Villes d'^ie Mineure 90 n 3. 

» See Head, 6MC Lydia, Ixiv; Robert, Hellenica VII, 948 16 ff 

»* So Robert, "Demodamas de Milet et la reine Apame , BCH CV111, 1W+, 


83 ArriaJi XXIX; Curtius III.l. 

" Diodoms XV1IL52.1; XIX.69.2. For these events in the town's history see 
Hirschfeld, o.c. in n. 10, pp. 1&-H. 
36 See Hirschfeld, ib„ pp. 14, 21-2. 






of the new poiiSj which does not appear to have been organized in 
"tribes" in the regular Greek manner; 87 and they evidently retained 
something of their former wealth and standing, since one among 
them, named Maiphemes, acted as mint master during this 
period. 88 (This highly responsible office was attainable only by 
leading citizens.) Maiphemes and his fellows were clearly well able 
themselves to support the Anahit temple; but evidence from the 
Roman period suggests that this was in fact one of Ceknae- 
Apamea's chief shrines, which very possibly (through the city's link 
with Queen Apama) enjoyed under the Seleucids royal as well as 
civic and private patronage. (The Seleucids followed the Achaeme- 
nians in having a palace in the town, where eventually, in 189 B.C., 
the fateful Treaty of Apamea was signed. 89 ) 

In Lydia Anahit's "Sacred Village*', Hiera Kome, had evidently 
grown to be a sizeable town; and a damaged inscription, dated 
palaeographically to early in the third century, records the settling 
by royal regulation of a boundary dispute between it and the old 
town of Thyatira ? some 19 km. to the north. 90 That such a dispute 
should have arisen suggests large acquisitions of land by Anahit's 
temple. Later Hiera Kome was ravaged at least twice in the course 
of local wars. The Ptolemids, with their naval power, had gained 
possession of much of the Carian and Ionian coasts, and this 
encouraged Eumenes of Pergamum, Philataerus' successor, to seek 
to throw off Seleucid suzerainty. In 263 he defeated Antiochus I in 
battle near Sardis, and thereafter ruled independently over the 
Caicus valley; but he, like others in western Anatolia, had to keep 
buying off" the plundering Galatians. In 241 his successor, Attalus I 
(the first Pergamenid to take the title of king), confronted an army 
of these marauders and defeated them decisively, gaining much 
fame by his victory. 91 Subsequently he won battles against Antio- 
chus Hierax, and a decade later against a combined Seleucid- 
Galatian force, making himself master thereby of Lydia, Phrygia 
and Lycaonia; but in 222 Achaius drove him back on Pergamum. 
Thereafter Attalus turned his attention westward, intervening ac- 
tively (as an ardent philhellene) in the affairs of Greece; and in 211 
he was included among the allies of Rome in a treaty against 
Macedon. (His son was later to claim that Attalus was first "of all 
the inhabitants of Asia and Greece" to become Rome's friend. 92 ) 

67 Jones, Cities, 70 with n. 65; Magic, RR, 136. 

98 Head, BMC Phrygia, p. 83 nos 83, 84; Robert, Noms indigenes, 349. 

69 Cf. above, p. 31. 

90 Keil-von Premerstein, DWA LIV, 1911, p. 13 inscription no. 18. 

91 For this and what follows cf. above, pp. 23-9. 

92 Polybius XXL20.I-5; Hansen, o.c., p. 67. 


Prusias I of Bithynia was related to Philip V of Macedon; and in 
209 he attacked Attalus, the fighting between them continuing until 
205. Four years later Philip himself landed on the Pergamene coast, 
and being unable to take Pergamum, marched inland seeking 
plunder, coming by way of Thyatira to Hiera Kome. From there he 
sent a message to Antiochus IIFs general in Lydia, asking urgently 
for supplies; but no adequate response was made, and town and 
temple must have suffered as the hungry army waited in vain. 93 
Almost half a century later Prusias II of Bithynia was embroiled in 
fighting with Attalus II (159—138); and when he too failed to take 
Pergamum he withdrew, "attacking and despoiling on his retreat 
the temple of Artemis at Hiera Kome". 94 The wealth and impor- 
tance of Anahit's shrine is shown by its being signalled out for 
mention in this way. By the time of this second raid Lydia, with 
Greater Phrygia and eastern Caria, was again under Attalid rule, 
part of the large territorial gains made by Pergamum under the 
Treaty of Apamea in reward for its support for Rome — gains 
whereby Eumenes II (197-160) became "the most powerful dynast 
in Asia Minor". 95 This aggrandizement was linked, however, with 
a measure of subservience to Rome. 

The Attalids in their turn founded new cities, generally with a 
larger number of their citizens being drawn from the local popula- 
tion than had been usual in Seleucid foundations. 96 One such city 
was Philadelphia, established by Attalus II, probably near the old 
Lydian town of Calletebus, whose inhabitants it may have 
absorbed. 97 Philadelphia stood on the further side of the Tmolus 
range from Hypaipa, and commanded the valley of the Cogamis. 
This, the largest left-bank tributary of the Hermus, joined that 
river above Sardis, and its valley provided an important route 
linking those of the Hermus and Maeander. Philadelphia's earliest 
coins bear on the obverse a Macedonian shield, a declaration of the 
town's origins; 98 but records of Roman times show that its chief 
divinity was "Artemis Anaitis". 95 It is inconceivable that a new 
shrine to a Zoroastrian yazata should have been created in a 
Hellenistic city, almost two centuries after the end of Persian rule; 
and so it may be safely assumed that a temple to Anahit already 

x>L, II 124-5. 
/ill, o.c., pp. 


93 Polybius XVI. 1; Hansen, ox., pp. 55-6; Will, Hisi. pol 

94 Polybius XXXII. 15.11; Hansen, o.c, pp. 133-4; Wi 
Robert, Et.anatoliennes, 111-18. 

a5 Hansen, o.c, p. 94. 

96 lb., p. 175 ff. 

97 Ramsay, Cities, 199-200; Jones, Cities, 54. On Philadelphia more generally 
Magie, RR 124-5, 982 n. 17. 

98 Head, BMC Lydia. p. 187 nos. 1^* with Pl.XXI.l. 

99 See below, p. 240. 




existed in this part of the Cogamis valley, and that the Hellenes 
whom Attalus settled there came to worship the Persian goddess as 
the chief local divinity. It can also be deduced that there were 
Iranians living here, in this well-watered and strategically import- 
ant valley, and that they too were made citizens of the new 
Philadelphia. (A small piece of evidence for the excellent relations 
which could exist between Iranians and Hellenes at this time is 
provided by an inscription from the upper Maeander valley. This 
was in honour of a man bearing the Persian name of Mardonios, 
who evidently owned a large estate in that fertile region. His family 
was presumably philhellene, since his father was called Aristoma- 
chos; and the inscription gratefully records that Mardonios had 
given help to Macedonian settlers in the valley under both Seleucid 
and Attalid rule, receiving finally in recognition the citizenship of 
Apollonia-Tripolis, an Attalid foundation. 100 ) 

On the opposite side of the Cogamis valley from Philadelphia 
rose the volcanic ranges of Burnt Lydia. with their many springs 
and torrents, including the headwaters of the Cogamis itself; and 
here a remarkable number of inscriptions of the Roman period 
have been found, attesting the veneration there of Anahit (amid 
that of Phrygian and Lydian divinities). 101 From this it has been 
deduced that there was a temple to the goddess somewhere in this 
region, serving as a centre for her cult; but no trace of such a 
sanctuary has yet been discovered. 

There is clearly, however, a large element of chance in the 
discovery of the past existence of even a large temple; and only a 
single Attalid inscription (which, once found, almost became lost to 
sight again) identifies an evidently important Anahit sanctuary to 
the west of Sardis, on the Hyrcanian Plain, This temple was set on 
a bold ridge of hill which rises conspicuously near the modern 
village of Saricam. 102 A Hellenistic town was built there, probably 
on the site of an older Achaemenian stronghold; and there was a 
fort at its higher end. One side of the ridge is steep, the other 
(which faces towards Magnesia and the noble mass of Mount 
Sipylus) is terraced and slopes gently down to the plain. Here the 
temple stood; and its presence has led to this place being identified 
as in all probability Hierolophos, the "Sacred Ridge", a town 
mentioned by Pliny as a member, in the Augustan period, of the 

100 Robert, BCH CVII, 1983, 498-505; and further on Apollonia-Tripolis, 
Ramsay, Cities. I 5-6, 192-5. 

,c " See below, pn, 242-4. 

102 See Robert, Villes d'Asie Mineure, 86-90; "Le site antique de Saricam", 
Hellenica VI, 1948, 56-69. 



conventus of Pergamum. 103 Explorers of the site in the nineteenth 
century found various inscriptions there, including one on a stone 
that had probably been set in the temple's walls. This stone was 
eventually removed to Manisa (ancient Magnesia), where it was 
used for a domestic well-head, 104 The inscription on it contained 
the record of a grant made to the temple, most probably by Attalus 
III of Pergamum, who succeeded his uncle, the founder of Philadel- 
phia, in 138 B.C. 105 The opening lines are: "I guarantee you the 
inviolability of the Persian Goddess in your city provided that your 
existing institution be thereby in no way changed". The king then 
speaks of this right of asylum having been received by the temple 
"from former rulers and from my ancestors", referring thus, it is 
held, to the Seleucids and his own Attalid predecessors. Seleucid 
kings had evidently fulfilled in their day the conqueror's duty of 
ratifying existing privileges, conferred in this case by an Achaeme- 
nian; and one small peculiarity of wording in the grant may indeed 
go back to the Persian period: in a similar grant to a Hellenic 
foundation, it has been pointed out, 106 the right of sanctuary- would 
be given to the temple, but here it is confirmed to the goddess 
herself. Zoroastrian temples would not have been known to early 
Achaemenian chancellery usage, and the original grant, set down 
in Aramaic and probably preserved in the temple's archives, was 
perhaps formulated thus, according to an old scribal tradition. 

Hierolophos is as if fashioned by nature for Zoroastrian worship: 
a "high place" rising dramatically from the plain, and yet readily 
accessible to priests and pilgrims; elevated itself, and with pros- 
pects all around of distant, loftier mountains, in particular Sipylus. 
The likelihood seems therefore that when Iranians settled in the 
Hyrcanian Plain they created a holy place for themselves on this 
ridge by making regular ascents there, to pray and sacrifice to 
Ahura Mazda and the yazatas; and that it was only when the 
temple cult of Anahit was introduced, and made rapidly popular 
through royal favour, that a consecrated building was erected there 
and dedicated specifically to this goddess. 

Yet another temple to Anahit appears to have existed to the 
north of Sardis, by an important highway which led from there to 

103 Nat.Hist., V.126. The identification, proposed by K. Buresch, Aus Lydien, 
27-8, was considered probable by Robert, Hellenica VI, 57, and has been 
accepted by others. 

104 See Radet, BCH 1887, 394. Robert, art. cit., pp. 57-8 and further CRAI 
1975, 322 n. 55, has shown conclusively that it is wrong to assume that this stone 
came originally from Anahit's better-known shrine at Hiera Korne. 

105 C. B. Welles, Royal Correspondence, 273-6; OGIS 333. 

106 Welles, o.c, p. 275. 





Pergamum. This passed a broad, marshy lake fed by floodings of 
the river Hermus, beyond which was a fertile plain. Here there rises 
an isolated hill of marble, quarried of old for building materials for 
Sardis, with at its foot the town of Golmermere, "Marmara of the 
lake". Evidence for Anahit's worship here is furnished by a marble 
slab, now built into a doorway, on which is carved in large letters 
"Artemis Persike". This, it is thought, came from a temple to 
Anahit. In an Ephesian inscription which lists the towns and 
peoples of the Roman province of Asia there is mention, in the 
district of Sardis, of "the Julii, who were formerly ealled the 
Maebozani'V 07 The earlier name is plainly Iranian, to be con- 
nected with the well-attested one of "Maibouzanes",' 08 and the 
people who bore it are listed between the towns of Julia Gordis and 
Daldis. Since Golmermere can be said to be so situated, it has been 
identified, on the strength of the Anahit inscription, as the town of 
these Maebozani/Julii. 109 They were the descendants, presumably, 
of Achaemenian colonists, who had very possibly been garrison 
troops there, since the marble hill makes a natural watchpost with 
wide views over the plain. It seems probable that here too the first 
Iranian settlers ascended the hill regularly to worship, and that 
later a temple to Anahit was built on that by then sacred place, 
materials for it being ready to hand. Golmermere would have been 
a natural staging post for pilgrims taking the shortest way from 
Sardis to Hiera Kome, who could thus have paid their devotions to 
Anahit there also; while Hyrcanis with its Iranian citizens was less 
than 30 km. to the west, and other worshippers could have come 
from the broad Hyrcanian Plain beyond. Pilgrimage is a part of 
Zoroastrian tradition, and the Iranians of Lydia may be expected 
to have visited all their local temples and shrines on the appointed 

In Sardis itself — more or less at the centre of the network of 
Anahit's temples — there are few remains from the Macedonian 
period, and little is known of its religious life at that time. Alexan- 

der had ordered a temple to be built there to Zeus, 110 but it is not 
known if this was done. The city's chief divinity continued to be 
Anatolian Artemis, and a great temple to her was built within her 
old sacred precinct, in which, in 254, Antiochus II set a stele 
recording a sale of land to his queen, Laodice. 111 To this temple a 
chapel was added, and there a colossal statue was erected to 
"Zeus". The head survives, and a likeness has been traced between 
its features and those of the Seleucid prince Achaius, who ruled in 
Asia Minor, with Sardis as his capital, from 220 to 214 (and under 
whom the city had a Persian governor, one Aribazos). 112 The 
divine identity of this "Zeus" remains problematic: was he Olym- 
pian Zeus, whom Alexander had sought to honour, or Zeus Bara- 
dates, that is, seemingly, Ahura Mazda, who had long been 
worshipped in Sardis, or a syncretism of these Greek and Iranian 
divinities? Evidence is lacking to provide an answer. 113 


The general evidence for the Macedonian period thus shows the 
Iranians of western Anatolia living prosperously under both Seleu- 
cid and Attalid rule, integrated into the general community and 
suffering only as it suffered- The cult of Anahit is the only form of 
Zoroastrian worship clearly attested at this time (during which 
such evidence as there is about the Iranian religion concerns 
exclusively temples and temple-towns); and it plainly flourished, 
with this yazata accepted as one of the divinities of the land, who 
was worshipped by those of non-Iranian as well as Iranian stock. 
An interesting proof of this is provided by Pausanias, who records 
that when a Lydian named Adrastos fell fighting for the Greeks 
against the Macedonians in the Lamian War (in 322 B.C.) "a 
likeness of this Adrastos in bronze was dedicated in front of the 
sanctuary of Persian Artemis by the Lydians. 114 Conceivably one of 
Anahit's temples was chosen because of her aspect of goddess of 

107 C. Habicht, "New evidence on the province of Asia", JRS 65, 1975, 67, 
73-4, who points out that this people's new name must have been obtained from 
one of the Julian emperors. 

108 For occurrences of this name see Justi, Namenbuch, 188; Robert, Noins 
indigenes, 516 n. 4; and for its probable etymology (* Mak-baujana- "Joy of the 
Moon") Benveniste, Titres et noms propres, 114. 

1 Robert, "Mermere antique el moderne: les carrieres, les Iraniens", BCH 
CVI, 1982, 367-73, where (p. 372 n. 23) a bibliography is given for the "Artemis 
Persike" stone. (Doubt about the identification is expressed by N. V. Sekunda, 
''Achaemenid colonization in Lvdia", Revue des Etudes Anciennes LXXXVII, 
1985, 25.) 

How far absorption into the general religious life of the land 

110 Arrian 1.17.5-6. 

111 Hanfmann, Sardis, 119. 

I1? Hanfmann, o.c, pp. 119-20; and for Aribazos, Polybius VII. 17.9, 
VIII.21.9. On Achaeus cf. above, p. 29. 

115 On. Zeus Baradates see further below, p. 248. 

"* VII. vi. 7. Mierse (in Hanfmann, Sardis. 121) supposes that this statue was 
erected in the sacred precinct ofSardian Artemis in the city of Sardis itself But cf. 
above, n. 33- 

1,1 Cf. HZ II 203. 





affected Anahit's cult at this time remains a matter for speculation. 
The first aspect of Zoroastrian observance to be affected is likely to 
have been the purity laws; for it is difficult to see how these could 
have been strictly maintained once access to this yazata's shrines 
was permitted to non-Zoroastrians. In this respect, therefore, the 
situation in western Anatolia was probably exactly opposite to that 
in Iran itself, where the purity laws appear to have been extended 
and made more stringent at this epoch. 116 In western Anatolia 
society was ethnically mixed, the religious climate was tolerant, 
and there was no realistic hope of a foreseeable restoration of 
Iranian sovereignty. Evidence from the Roman period shows ; 
moreover, that the chief priests of Anahit's temples were educated 
men, Greek-speaking, who (like other high priests of important 
shrines 117 ) took an active part in public affairs. The tendency was 
thus, it seems, towards openness and easy intercourse with other 
citizens, rather than towards isolation and withdrawal. 

There was evidently also, however, a characteristic Zoroastrian 
conservatism. This is attested later in the spheres of ritual and 
liturgical language; and there is no reason to suppose that there 
was pressure, external or within the community, to make changes 
in either. The unique rituals of the fire-cult, and the sonorous 
chanting of Avestan, were important elements in the mystery of the 
Iranian faith, while on the higher planes of doctrine and ethics it 
had great strengths. It was thus well constituted to retain its hold 
on those of Iranian stock, and even to draw in others, such as the 
Macedonians of Philadelphia; but gaining "outer" adherents of 
different national and religious backgrounds clearly carried the 
danger of diluting its own traditions. 

Under Roman rule 

Despite a number of rebuffs and slights, the Attalids maintained 
friendly and ever more subservient relations with Rome; and when 
Attalus III died in 133 he left almost all his wide domains by will to 
the republic. A revolt followed, led by Aristonicus, a claimant to 
the Pergamid throne; and Rome sought help from allies and client 
kings in Asia Minor to put this down. One who responded was 
Mithradates V of Pontus, whom the citizens of Hypaipa, among 
others, are reported to have resisted — for which they doubtless 
suffered in due course." 8 In 131 a Roman army arrived, and after 

some ineffective righting command was given to M. Perperna, who 
besieged Aristonicus in a town in the Caicus valley and took him 
prisoner there. While Perperna was settling affairs, the priests oi 
Hiera Kqme evidently sent a delegation to wait on him, and 
secured from him (yet another in the line of local conquerors) 
recognition of their temple's sanctuary rights. 119 Perperna died in 
129, and there was more destructive fighting before the whole of the 
former Pergamid empire was subdued. Its territories were vari- 
ously dealt with; but the entire region of our present concern — 
Lydia, Caria and south-west Phrygia — became part of the new 
Roman province of Asia. 

The Roman republic dealt ruthlessly and greedily with its new 
possession. Punitive measures were taken against those who had 
supported Aristonicus; and thereafter the people of the province 
had to bear for a century "the grinding exactions, legal and illegal, 
of the Roman governors, tax-gatherers, and money-lenders." 120 
When in 88 B.C. Mithradates the Great of Pontus, at war with 
Rome, led his army into south-west Anatolia, many cities there are 
said to have welcomed him as a deliverer; but three years later 
Sulla forced him to withdraw. Sulla then punished the province of 
Asia savagely, billeting his troops on its inhabitants with extrava- 
gant demands, and exacting a crushing indemnity which sank the 
region deep in debt. : 'Do you imagine" Cicero demanded rhetori- 
callv of his fellow-Romans, in speaking of the republic's dealings 
with the province, "that any temple in these lands has been 
regarded as holy, any city as worthy of respect, any private house 
as safe from attack?" 121 

In the following decade fighting was to the east of the province. 
In 77-76 P. Servilius Vatia led Roman forces to reduce southern 
Asia Minor, operating in Lycia and Pamphylia; and in 75 he 
conquered the Isauri of the northern face of the Taurus range, 
earning himself the cognomen of Isauricus. 122 It was under his son, 
P. Servilius Isauricus the younger, that matters took a happier turn 
for the province of Asia. In 4-6-44 he was governor there under 
Julius Caesar, and proved himself an able, active and upright 
administrator. Among the matters with which he concerned him- 
self were the restoration of temples and the investigation of their 
rights of sanctuary, which were open to abuse in troubled times. 1 ' 1 
Hiera Kome was one of the shrines which had its sanctuary rights 

116 Cf. above, p. 68. 

117 Cf. Debord, Aspects sociaux, 54. 

llB Jones, Cities, 61; and in general on Aristonicus' revolt, Hansen, Attalids, 
150-9; CAH IX 103-5. 

119 Tacitus, Annals, 111.62. 

120 CAH IX 259-60. 

111 De imp. en. Pompd 22.64; CAH IX 475 

22 CAH IX 354-5; Magie, RR, 2a&-90. 

23 Robert, Hellenica VI, 1948, 38-42; Magie, RR, 416-17. 



confirmed once more by him, and so too most probably was 
Hypaipa. 124 Records of Isauricus having statues set up again in 
various temples are testimony to the widespread looting and vio- 
lence which the province had endured. 

Isauricus' brief period of benign authority was not enough to blot 
out memories of years of Roman misrule; and when in 40 B.C. a 
Parthian army, having crossed Asia Minor without opposition, 
appeared within the borders of the province, resistance (with a few 
exceptions) was at best half-hearted. There may indeed have been 
a warm welcome for these Iranian soldiers from some of its 
inhabitants. 125 Their presence, however, was short-lived; for in 39 
one of Mark Antony's generals, landing unexpectedly, surprised 
the Parthians and drove them eastward again. Thereafter Rome's 
grip on the province tightened ever more securely. 

As ruling power, Rome took control mainly of taxation and 
administration of the law, leaving most other matters to the towns 
and tribal communities. For judicial purposes these were grouped 
in circuits or assize districts {conventusjuridicus) y which came in time 
to serve other purposes also.' 26 In Lydia, Hierolophos, as we have 
seen, belonged to the conventus of Pergamum, as did Hiera Kome. 
Philadelphia in the Cogamis valley was in that of Sardis, and by the 
first century B.C. Hypaipa was included in the conventus of Ephesus. 
By the middle of that century the constitutions of Asia's towns seem 
to have become modelled on that of Rome, with the city council 
being "not, according to the usual Greek practice, an annually 
changing body selected by lot, but a permanent body, like the 
Roman senate, membership of which was a high honour". 127 Such a 
development would have accorded with the deep instinct among 
Iranians and others for hereditary dignities. To judge from later 
practice elsewhere in the Zoroastrian community, 128 the priests of 
Anahit's temples, belonging as they did to a hereditary sacred 
calling, are not likely to have put themselves forward to become 

,u Tacitus, Annals, III. 62. For other temples see Robert, I.e., and L'Antiquite 
Classique XXXV, 1966, 406-7, 410 n. 1, 416 n. 1. 

123 On this campaign, directed by the Parthian prince Pacoms and led by a 
former Roman general, Q. Labienus, see CAH X 47 ff.; Debevoise, Political 
History of Parthia, 108 ff. 

126 A list of these districts is given by Pliny, Nat. Hist., V.105 fT; and a marble 
slab bearing part of what was probably a complete register of them, set up, it is 
thought, by the Provincial Assembly of Asia, was found at Ephesus in 1969, see 
C. Habicht, JRS 65, 1975,63-91. 

127 Jones, Cities, 61. 

I3B I.e. among the Irani and Parsi communities, as attested from the 17th 
century A.C. onwards, see Boyce, Zoroastrians, 186. 



members of these secular bodies, but presumably exercised their 
considerable influence less directly in city affairs. 

There is evidence, however, that they were members of delega- 
tions sent by their respective towns to the Provincial Assembly of 
Asia. This came into being in the first century B.C., with for its 
prime purpose the maintenance of the cult of the "goddess Roma" 
{Thea Rome, Dm Roma); and it met annually to superintend a 
festival in her honour. 129 Roma as a goddess, with all the trappings 
of divinity — altars, statues, temples, festivals, sacrifices, priests — 
was, it has been said, "a product of the Greek mind", 130 a deifica- 
tion of the Roman state which had become heir to the eastern kings, 
with their ruler-cults, which it had overthrown. 131 The cult is 
attested from early in the second century B.C., but it was not until 
the end of the Attalid dynasty that it appeared in south-west 
Anatolia, where it was probably established simultaneously in a 
number of cities after the defeat of Aristonicus. 132 Among the places 
where it is attested are Ephesus, Sardis, and Celenae-Apamea; at 
Ephesus it was linked subsequently with a cult of P. Servilius 
Isauricus the younger, a development which underlines its evolu- 
tion from the former ruler-cult. 133 Hiera Kome also had the cult of 
Roma, the evidence being an inscription set up there by one 
"Athenodorus son of Mithres", who describes himself as a former 
priest of Roma. 134 Such a ''priest" would have been a layman, a 
leading citizen; and since (because of the cult's political impor- 
tance) its priests were often made eponymous, i.e. events were 
dated by their term of office, the position attracted distinguished 
men, gratified to have their names thus perpetuated in their city's 
records. 135 ** 

The cult of Roma, it has been said, "covered the entire range of 
political emotion: enthusiastic affection, servile flattery, gratitude, 
suspicion, naked fear. It was a cult based on political, rather than 
religious, experience". 136 Evidence that the high priests of Anahit's 
shrine at Hypaipa shared in the inescapable duty of maintaining it 
is provided by an inscribed stone from there. This records, in 

n * See in detail R. Mellor, The worship of the goddess Roma in the Greek 
world; id. "The goddess Roma", ANRW II.17.2, 950-1030. Also S. R. F. Price, 
Rituals and Power, 40-3. 

190 Mellor, Worship, p. 14. 

131 lb., pp. 21-3. 

131 ib., pp. 57. 70 r. 

133 lb., p. 58; Magie, RR, 446-7. 

134 Robert, Hellenica VI, 29 with n. 6, 50. 

135 Mellor, o.c, p. 183. 
1,6 lb., p. 16. 





Greek, that in the reign of Augustus Caesar (27 B.C. - 14 A.C.) 
one Theophronos had died young; and that the Provincial As- 
sembly of Asia had honoured him because of the fame of his father 
and his ancestors. His father is named as Theophronos son of 
Theophronos son of Hermolaos son of Theophronos, hereditary 
priest of Anaitis Artemis ; "celebrated for her manifestations 
(epiphaneiai)" . 137 The interest of this inscription is manifold. It 
establishes that at Hypaipa "Anaitis" stood before its Greco- 
Anatolian interpretation "Artemis" in the cult-name of the god- 
dess, declaring thus her Iranian identity. It indicates that her high 
priests held office in hereditary succession; and it shows that they 
were fully integrated into the cultural and political life of the 
province of Asia, the family being well-known to other members of 
its Assembly. That these priests all bore Greek names is not 
surprising. Of some thirty Jewish donors' names recorded in the 
synagogue at Sardis all but two are Greek or Latin ones; l3e and in 
Christian nomenclature of the period "all Olympus" it has been 
said, is to be found- 139 The family name of the Hypaipa high priests, 
Theophronos, "Godly-minded, devout', rare among Greeks them- 
selves, seems to have been deliberately chosen as appropriate for 
men of their vocation; 140 but though in this inscription the general 
Greek word for "priest", hiereus, is given for them, two other 
inscriptions from Hypaipa show that Iranian, priestly titles con- 
tinued to be used there. One of these inscriptions, sadly fragmen- 
tary and of uncertain date, contains the words "the goddess" and 
"magoi";"*' and the other, also difficult to date, refers to "Apollo- 
nius the Archimagos". 1 * 2 This Greco-Iranian title is attested in 
Christian martyrologies of the fourth century, 1,13 and presumably 
renders Middle Persian mowbed. Parthian magbad "master of priests, 
high priest". Its use in Lydia, a remote area from the point of view 

137 OGIS 470; see S. Reinach, Chroniques d'Orient, 151-7; Robert, RN 
XVIII, 1976, 31—3 with, in n. 25, references to his own improvements on 
readings. This important inscription has on occasion been wrongly attributed to 
Sardis (so in HZ II 229), on which error see Robert, Hellenica VI, 58 n. 5. 

138 Hanfmann, Sardis, 184; Robert, Nouvelles inscriptions de Sardes, 37 IF. Of 
the remaining two donors, one appears as "Samuel, also known as Julian". 

139 L. Jalabert, cited by Robert, fit. ep. et phil., 211 n. 1. Priest-lists from 
western Anatolian shrines generally begin with indigenous names and continue 
with Greek ones, an indication of hellenization rather than of a change of 
priesthood, see Debord, Aspects sociaux, 51. 

140 So Robert, RN XVIII, 31. 

141 See Robert, ib., p. 32. 

I4a G. Kaibel, Epigrammata Graeca ex lapidibus conlecta, Strasburg 1878, 537 
no. 903a. On this inscription see further below, p. 251. 

143 For references see Wikander, Feuerpriester, 50 nn. 2, 3. {Pace Wikander, ib., 
p. 49, there are no grounds for identifying Hypaipa's arckimagos as a "herbad".) 

of Iranian Zoroastrianism, confirms the existence of Old Persian 
*magupati, from which the two Middle Iranian forms descend. This 
title was presumably current in Anatolia as elsewhere under the 
Achaemenians, and persisted there in use, half-grecisized for ele- 

Another point of interest in the Theophronos inscription is the 
characterization of Anaitis Artemis as "celebrated for her manifes- 
tations". The word epiphaneia, first attested in the fourth century 
B.C., was much used in the Hellenistic period, either for the visible 
appearance of a god to a mortal, who might be waking or dream- 
ing, or generally, for the miraculous interventions and evident help 
given by a divinity to his worshippers. 144 In the first category there 
were " cult-epiphanies", manifestations connected with a particular 
shrine; for example, an epiphany of Anatolian Artemis at 
Magnesia-on-the-Maeander in 221/220 led to a new temple being 
built to her there. 145 Numerous epiphanies of this goddess are 
recorded, and one of her epithets, locally, was epiphanes. ] * 5 "B^ef in 
this kind of divine revelation belongs to the basic forms of religious 
thought . . . and is common to all peoples", 1A7 being amply attested 
among Zoroastrians themselves; Ma but the stress on it in the 
Theophronos inscription, as the only characterization given there 
of Anaitis, is in accord with the emphasis laid on this aspect of 
communication with the divine in the Hellenistic age. 

Inscriptions from both Hiera Kome and Hypaipa are regrettably 
few, for while the site of the former was plundered by local villagers 
for building materials, the latter was systematically pillaged in the 
nineteenth century for the same purpose when the new town of 
Odemis. was founded nearby. 149 Moreover, Hiera Kome was among 
the places which suffered greatly in a devastating earthquake of 1 7 
A.C; and it is thought that it was because of help given to it then (as 
to other of Lydia's shattered cities) by Tiberius Caesar (14-37 A.C.) 
that the town changed its name in gratitude to Hierocaesarea. 150 A 

'** See F. Pfister, "Epiphanie", PW, Supp. Bd. IV, 1924, pp. 277-323, with 
abundant references. 

'** lb., p. 298. On the earlier founding of games there in her honour, after one of 
her epiphanies, see above, p. 108. 

145 lb., p. 299. 

147 lb., p. 281. 

IW See, e.g. Boyce, Stronghold, 64. 65, 86-7, 88. 

149 See Robert, RN XVIII, 1976, 32 n. 31 (citing the account of the pillage 
given by D. Baltazzi). "Little Hypaipa" moreover grew and flourished in the 
Byzantine period, so that her inhabitants had probably already destroyed much 
evidence ot the town's pre-Christian past. 

150 The identification of Hiera Kome with Hierocaesarea was first made by 
Imhoof-Blumer, see his Lyd. Stadtmiinzen, 5-1 1. The old name still appears in 





bust of this emperor has been found in the ruins of Hypaipa, 1 ^ 1 which 
doubtless also had tangible reasons to honour him. 

In 23 A.C., Tacitus records, 152 Tiberius "while tightening his 
grasp on the solid power of the principate, vouchsafed to the senate 
a shadow of the past by submitting the claims of the provinces to 
the discussion of its members. For throughout the Greek cities there 
was a growing laxity, and impunity, in the creation of rights of 
asylum. ... It was resolved, therefore, that the communities in 
question should send their charters and deputies to Rome. ... It 
was an impressive spectacle which that day afforded, when the 
senate scrutinized the benefactions of its predecessors, the constitu- 
tions of the provinces, even the decrees of kings whose power 
antedated the arms of Rome, and the rites of the deities themselves, 
with full liberty as of old to confirm or change". Sanctuary rights 
were highly valued, not only for the prestige which their possession 
conferred on a shrine, but for direct economic reasons: they were 
often, it seems, linked with tax concessions, and the immunities 
which they offered allowed commerce to flourish and so were an 
important factor in a temple's prosperity, and that of the town in 
which it stood. 153 It was small wonder, therefore, that delegations 
thronged to Rome. Among the deputies from the province of Asia 
Tacitus lists first the Ephesians, who stressed that the ancient 
privileges of "Diana's" temple "had not been diminished under the 
Persian empire; later, they had been preserved by the Mace- 
donians — last by ourselves". Others followed with their various 
claims to antiquity; and as fifth came Hierocaesarea, which, Taci- 
tus says, "went deeper into the past; the community owned a 
Persian Diana with a temple dedicated in the reign of Cyrus; and 
there were references to Perperna, Isauricus, and many other 
commanders who had allowed the same sanctity not only to the 
temple but to the neighbourhood for two miles around". In the end 
this shrine was one of those allowed to retain their rights; and the 
happy discovery has been made there of the remains of one of the 
boundary stones, a broken block of marble with bold lettering 
proclaiming in Greek the "bound of the sacred asylum of 
Artemis". 154 It was probably at this juncture, it is thought, that the 

the assize-town lists (drawn up under Augustus and Agrippa) given by Pliny and 
on the Ephesian stone, see Habicht, JRS 65, 80 n. 127. Further Magie, RR, 

,S1 See S. Reinach, Chroniques d'Orient, 153. 

152 Annals 1 1 1.60-64. 

153 Gf Debord, Aspects sociaux, 24. 

154 Robert, Hellenica VI, 1948, 33 ff. with PL XXX.3. 

citizens of Hierocaesarea set up a dedication to the "Goddess 
Senate Manifest", of which a fragment survives. 1 * 5 This is the only 
known instance of the epithet epiphanes being used for the divinized 
Roman State, whose power had thus been benevolently shown to 
the Asian town. 

Because of ravages by nature and man the chief evidence con- 
cerning Anahit's cult at Hierocaesarea comes, however, not frorrP* 
monuments but coins; for whereas the local coinages of Asia Minor 
are usually "burdened with a throng of types as various as they are 
uninstructive'Y 06 those of this town nearly all bear designs which 
have some link with its patron divinity. A few issues belong to 
Hellenistic times, but the bulk of them are from the Roman 
imperial period. 157 Nothing certain is known of the iconography of 
Anahit's cult under the Achaemenians; but, given this cult's con- 
nection with that of Ishtar, it is to be expected that her images 
would then have been modelled on those of the Babylonian god- 
dess. An image like Ishtar's appears in fact on a fourth-century 
Persian seal from Asia Minor, and it corresponds fairly well with 
the description of Anahit's statue introduced (presumably at that 
epoch) into Yost 5. 158 The original cult statue at Hiera Kome was 
almost certainly plundered thereafter in local wars or during the 
early days of the Roman republic; and the iconography shown on 
one of the town's rare coins of the first century B.C. is wholly 
Greco-Anatolian in character. On the obverse is the bust of Arte- 
mis Huntress, bare-headed, with bow and quiver at her back, 
identified as the Zoroastrian divinity by the word PERSIKE be- 
neath in Greek letters; on the reverse is the protome of a kneeling 
stag, the creature of Ephesian Artemis, with the letters HIER for 
Hiera Kome. 159 Since neither the river nor the planetary divinity 
whose concepts merge in that of "Anahit" had any association with 
deer or hunting, this iconography is wholly foreign to the Persian 
yazata; 160 and when, on later coins, she is shown full length she is 
seen to be attired fully in Greek fashion, with short tunic (the chiton) 
and high boots, and is often shooting with her bow at an unseen 
quarry. However, another early coin with the same obverse as the 

'" lb., pp. 50-3 with PI. VIII.3. 
,sa lb., p. 27. 

157 For these coins as a whole see Imhoof-Blumer, "Die Miinzen von Hiera- 
kome und Hierocaesarea', Lyd. Stadt-miinzen, 5-22; Head, BMC Lvdia, 102-7. 

158 Vv. 126-8, c(. above, p. 162, and for the Persian seal see HZ II 203-4. On 
the possibility of an Ish tar-like figure representing Anahit on a coin ofAriarathes 
III of Cappadocia see below, p. 267. 

15 * See Imhoof-Blumer, o.c.. pp. 5-6, 8 with Pl.I.l, 2; Head, o.c., Pl.XI.l. 
160 Cf. Wikander, Feuerpriester, 81, 83. 






first, i.e. the bust of Artemis Huntress, reinforces the Persian 
character of the Hierocaesarean cult; for on its reverse is the head of 
a man wearing the tiara, with side-pieces and neck-flaps, generally 
identified as a magus in traditional costume. 161 

The cult-statue chosen for Anahit at Hypaipa was strikingly 
different. There the goddess, stiff and hieratic, faces the worshipper. 
She wears a long robe (the double chiton), girdled, the lower 
part following the narrow line of her limbs, for she stands with legs 
and feet close together. She is crowned with a tall headdress (the 
kalatkos), from beneath which a veil falls down behind her almost to 
the ground; and her lower arms are stretched out sideways, parting 
the veil so that it frames her body. 162 This image belongs to a group 
of very similar cult-statues known in Hellenistic times from parts of 
Asia Minor and from Syria — that is, from roughly the area ruled by 
the Seleucids in the west before the Peace of Apamea. 163 Both male 
and female divinities were thus represented; but in western Asia 
Minor (where the images were concentrated in Lydia, Garia, 
Phrygia and Pamphylia) the type was associated most prominently 
with Artemis of Ephesus. Some argue that the Ephesian statue was 
a genuinely archaic one, which came to be imitated in other cults, 
while some hold that these images as a group represent an archaiz- 
ing tendency of the period, 164 Where measurable, the statues ap- 
pear a little less than lifesize; and they seem generally to have been 
made of wood (dark with oiling and polishing). With their stiff 
frontality, they were thus well adapted to the practice of carrying a 
cult-image out of its shrine on festival days to be seen by throngs of 
worshippers. ie:> 

Each cult-statue of this type is somehow distinguished, charac- 
teristically, from the others, that of the "Persian Artemis" by its 


7-11 with P1.I.3; and cf. Head, ox. 

. 1 viii. 

161 See lmhoof-Blumer, o.c. 
For the tiara cf. HZ II 20. 

162 Tor representations (on coins of Roman imperial times) see lmhoof-Blumer, 
Kleinas. Miinzen, PI.VI.6; Head, o.c., Pl.XI; Robert, RN XVIII, 1976, PI. I; 
R. Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, PI. 75—6. That this cult image represented 
Anaitis Artemis was first recognized by S. Reinach, d'Orient, 27 n, 8 
with p. 37. 

159 For these statues see in brief Fleischer, o.c, pp. 391-3. 

164 For a summary of the discussion see Fleischer, o.c, pp. 389-91, and add 
Ernest Will, Le relief cukuel greco-romain, 138 n. 1, 192-3, 265 (who is among 
those who see these images as archaistic). Fleischer, who argued for the genuine 
antiquity of the Ephesian image, held that the cult of "Persian Artemis" at 
Hypaipa, being represented by a statue of this type, must go back to pre- 
Achaemenian times, i.e. be no more than an "interpretatio Persica" of that of 
Anatolian Artemis. Against this see, trenchantly, Robert, art. cit., p. 37 n. 60. 

165 Fleischer, o.c, p. 386. 

simplicity, with empty hands and no attributes, whereas Aphrodite 
of Aphrodisias in Caria is often shown with star and crescent above 
her extended arms. The statue of Ephesian Artemis frequently has 
what appear to be fillets hanging from each hand, and a frontal 
ornament— low on her breast or around m* waist— of rows of what 
are generally taken to be fertility symbols. These have been vari- 
ously interpreted as female breasts, or dates, grapes or eggs; but a 
convincing case has been made 166 for their being in fact the scro- 
tums of sacrificial bulls, containing the testicles, symbol of the 
source of life. A great bull-sacrifice took place at Ephesus each 
spring; and it is suggested that these objects were then hung on 
Artemis' statue there, while the "fillets" depending from each hand 
may be the knotted cords that bound the sacrificial beasts. 
Occasionally these distinctive adjuncts of Ephesian Artemis are 
transferred to what is undoubtedly an image of Persian Anahit. 

Although the cult-images of this group, with their rigid pose, 
have an ancient look, thev are attired with clothes and ornaments 
of the Greco-Roman period. (Again, small details in these respects 
help to distinguish the various divinities; and these details might 
change slightly over the centuries, as the priests modified in trifling 
ways the manner in which they dressed their statues. 167 ) Hypaipa's 
priests appear in general no less willing than those of Hierocaesarea 
to adapt to hellenization, and it may well be they of whom 
Pausanias spoke 168 when he said that "those Lydians ... who have 
a sanctuary of Artemis Anaitis" claimed that their wooden image 
was the very one stolen by Orestes and Iphigenia from the Tauric 
land. (This'claim was widely made at Asian "Artemis" shrines.) 
The use of such different cult-images at this period for the Persian 
goddess at her two chief Lydian sanctuaries is arresting; and the 
divergence perhaps marks a measure of ancient rivalry between 
them, both being probably Achaemenian royal foundations. It 
may, however, be due to nothing more significant than a difference 
of personal inclination among their priests, or chance in the current 
iconographic influences when new statues came to be made at their 
temples. It may be too that the Hypaipa priests were influenced by 
the fact that the hieratic statue corresponds far better than the 
"Huntress" one with the description of Anahit's image in Yost 5; 
but why, if so, did this consideration not weigh with their brethren 

166 G. Seiterle, "Artemis— Die Crosse Gottin von Ephesos", AW X, 1979, 


167 On such small changes in the dress of Anaitis Artemis' image at Hypaipa see 

Fleischer, o.c, pp. 185-6. 

168 III.xvi.8. 



at Hierocaesarea? The puzzle is one not likely to be solved. 

The earliest known representation of the Hypaipa statue appears 
on a coin issue of the Gaystrianoi 159 (that is, the inhabitants of the 
lower Cayster valley), who at some time in the second or first 
century B.C. minted coins in common for circulation throughout 
their region. 170 The citizens of Hypaipa, it seems, chose Anahit's 
image to represent their town. Hypaipa's individual coin issues 
belong to Roman imperial times, when, with peace established and 
exploitation curtailed, prosperity returned to the province of Asia. 
Many of its towns, small as well as large, then struck their own 
bronze coins, often abundantly in the second and third centuries; 
and of those with known Anahit temples Hierocaesarea' s numerous 
issues are the most striking, since, as we have seen, almost all make 
some allusion to Anahit and her cult — a sustained acknowledge- 
ment, it seems, of the town's origin as a "sacred village", and of the 
dominant part which her temple continued to play in its life. On 
them the goddess herself appears repeatedly, as Artemis Huntress, 
with or without attendant deer and occasionally accompanied by a 
hound. Sometimes she is overthrowing a stag; and on one coin she 
stands, holding bow and arrow, in a chariot drawn by two gallop- 
ing stags. 171 In another issue her chariot is drawn instead by two 
horses 173 , a substitution which may have been made, it is suggested, 
in deliberate allusion to the horse-drawn chariot of Aredvi Sura 
Anahita, vividly described in her Avestan yast. 1 73 

This particular coin has other interesting features; for it shows 
Anahit turning to clasp the hand of the city Fortune behind her, 
while at the horses' heads, holding one by the bridle, is Perseus 
with his hatpe. The legend of Perseus was popular, for a variety of 
reasons, at a number of places in Asia Minor; 174 but in association 
with a Persian cult it had an especial significance, since by a play 
on words, exploited already in the Achaemenian period. Perseus 
had been linked with the Persians and made into the ancestor of the 
Achaemenians themselves. There was even a legend, shaped pre- 
sumably in Asia Minor, that he had gathered fire sent down from 
heaven and tended it in his palace, thus establishing its cult, to be 
maintained thereafter by his descendants, the Persians — a remark- 
able hellenization of the central Zoroastrian observance, which was 

169 Head, BMC Lydia. lx; RN 1885, PI.I.5; Imhoof-Blumer, Rev. suisse num. 
1896, 205. 

l7C Head, BMC Lydia, xHu-xliv: Imhoof-Blumer, Lyd.Stadt-miinzen, 78- 

171 Head, o.c, p. 107 no. 28. 

172 lb., p. 105 no. 20, 

173 So Robert, RN XVIII, 1976, 42, citing Yt.5.11, 13. 

174 See Robert, BCH CI, 1977, 96-128. 



clearly only literary and fanciful. 175 This coin of Hierocaesarea, 
bringing together "Persian Artemis" with her horses and Perseus, 
thus seems meant doubly to declare the Persian nature of the 
goddess'.cult. Two other issues which set both figures together have 
Anahit as Artemis Huntress standing facing Perseus, each stretch- 
ing out a hand to the other over an "altar", presumably a fire- 
holder, from which flames leap up. 175 (The obverses of all three 
issues have a Roman theme, the bust either of the deified Senate or 
of the reigning emperor.) Perseus also appears alone; 177 and one 
coin reverse shows simply fire burning in an altar-like holder. 178 

Otherwise, apart from the city Fortune (regularly represented, 
with turreted headdress, on urban issues throughout the region) 
and the goddess Roma (virtually obligatory, like Senate and Em- 
peror), the only being other than Anahit to appear on Hierocaesa- 
rean coins is the god of the river Hyllus. 179 Since rivers were of 
prime importance for local prosperity, river-gods appear with great 
frequency on Anatolian coins; 180 and, though Anahit herself was by 
origin half a river-goddess, the divinity of the Hyllus is shown in 
conventional Greek guise as a man with bare torso, reclining, one 
hand holding a reed, the other resting on an over-turned vase from 
which water flows. 181 

Anahit's dominant position at Hierocaesarea is further attested 
by a coin on which her statue, with strung bow and arrow drawn 
from the quiver, appears within a columned temple-front. 182 Such a 
design is common on Greco-Roman coins, and regularly honours 

175 See Cumont, "Le Persee d'Amisos' - , RA 1905, 180-9; Robert, RN XVIII, 
41 with nn. 74-6. On Perseus as the ancestor of the Persians see Herodotus VI. 
54, VII. 61, 150; Arrian III. 3. 2. There is an interesting association of Perseus with 
Iranians at the town of Sebaste in S. W. Phrygia, founded by Augustus, who 
gathered in peoples from the surrounding district to be among its first citizens 
(Ramsay, Cities, II 582;Jones, Cities, 71-2). Sebaste looked across a lovely valley 
to the mountains of Burnt Lydia. and this valley had presumably attracted 
Iranian colonists in Achaemenian times, for 3 members of the town's senate in the 
1st cent, still bore Iranian names: Mithradates [sic], Aribazos and Sisines (Ram- 
say, o.c, II 602-3, Robert, CRAI 1978, 284 n. 63; the spelling "Mithradates" in 
contrast to the usual Greco-Roman "Miihridates", is striking, cf. below, p. 28 1 n. 
116). It was very possibly out of courtesy to these Iranians that Sebaste chose to 
set Perseus on its coins (see Head, BMC Phrygia, Pl.XLIII.l 1). 

176 Robert, ib., p. 41 n. 75, citing publications by Imhoof-Blumer and P. 

177 Head, o.c. p. 105 no. 19 with P1.XI.6. 

178 lb., p. 102 no. 6. 

179 Alias the Glaukus. On the ancient names of the river see Imhoof-Blumer, 
Kleinas, Munzen, 173, 

180 See Imhoof-BlumeT, "Fluss-und Meergotter". 

191 lb., nos. 310-11 wthPl.X. 15-16; Head, o.c, p. 105 no 26 with PLXI. 1 1; 
Robert, Hellenica VI, 30 n. 3. 
1B2 Head, o.c, p. 107 no. 27. 





the chief local divinity. The Hierocaesarean coin gives Anahit's 
temple four columns, but this may have been a simplification, since 
"it was not necessary for purposes of identification to show the 
exact number of columns on the facade of a temple; it sufficed 
merely to indicate that there was a columned portico. The columns 
could be reduced so that the engraver could place in the facade the 
cult image, which actually stood in the interior of the temple. 
Equally commonly, the space between the central columns was 
widened to accommodate the image, which usually identified the 
shrine with no possible ambiguity; and the artist achieves this in a 
way which would suggest the age-old custom of epiphany, a god 
appearing in person before his worshippers." 183 

Among other devices which appear on coins of Hierocaesarea are 
the stag, and a bee within a laurel wreath. 184 The bee, like the stag, 
belonged to Ephesian Artemis, and was set on coins of a number of 
Anatolian towns. In later times at least Zoroastrian authorities 
classified the stinging bee as a khrafstra; and though honey was a 
permitted food for the laity, it was forbidden to priests maintaining 
strict ritual purity, and by some to all priests. ,8a Such niceties of the 
developed purity laws appear to have been either unknown to the 
Zoroastrians of Asia Minor or abandoned by them 185 ; but the bee 
itself may have been used here simply as a device (just as diverse 
other khrafstras, such as wolf and scorpion, were used on Sasanian 
seals). On one issue a creature more appropriate to the Persian 
goddess is shown, namely a zebu or humped cow. The cow is not 
only generally sacred to Zoroastrians, but is proper to Anahit as 
her sacrificial animal 187 (probably, that is, as the traditional offer- 
ing to a river-goddess, with the cow, as representative of all 
beneficent creatures, being sacrificed to the water which sustains 
all animal life 188 ). 

One coin of Hierocaesarea, of the late second century, has on its 
reverse Artemis Huntress with hound, and the words: "Artemi- 
dorus, high [priest] (arch[iereus]y ,im . This title is apparently paral- 

Price and Trell, Coins and their Cities, 19. 
IW Head, o.c, p. 104 no. 17 with PI.XI.4. 

185 See Rivayats, ed. Unvala, I, p. 268.16-18, II, p. 10.12; tr. Dhabhar, pp. 
266, 339. 

186 On the ritual use of honey by the magi of Cappadocia and Pontus see below, 
pp. 293-4, 296. 

187 This, it has been suggested, is why this relatively uncommon device appears 
here, see Robert, RN XVIII, 27 n. 2. 

188 See Nirangestan, ed. A. Waag, Leipzig 1941, 81; Boyce, BSOAS XXX, 
1967, 42-3. 

189 Imhoof-Blumer, Kleinas. Munzen, I 173 no. 3; Hill, NC 1917, 21 with 
P1.1I.I9; Robert, Hellenica VI, 51 n. 1. The coin is from the time of Commodus 

lei in use to the Greco-Iranian one of archimagos recorded at Hy- 
paipa; and again the high priest bears a Greek name, but one which, 
like Theophronos, was clearly chosen for its appropriateness. 

Although no major divinity but Anahit is honoured on the coins 
of Hierocaesarea, inscriptions there provide a little evidence for the 
worship of other gods in that doubtless by then multi-ethnic town. 
That erected by Athenodoros son of Mithres 190 (presumably an 
Iranian) was to Apollo Paian, "the Healer". A small, apparently 
domestic altar has been found devoted to Zeus Ktesios, 191 and an 
altar and tholos were dedicated to Dionysus by a priest of his cult. 192 

As for Hypaipa, its coins resemble those of Hierocaesarea in 
several respects, but there are two main divergences: the different 
cult-image of Anahit, and the fact that Hypaipa, already an old 
town with a mixed population when her temple was built there, 
followed general practice by setting representations of numerous 
divinities on its coins. Its own river-god, that of the Cayster, 
appears in conventional guise 193 , as does its city Fortune; and in 
addition there are Apollo (frequently), Dionysus, Zeus, Heracles, 
Asclepius and others. It is a general question how far such re- 
presentations reflected any realities of local worship; but the cult of 
Dionysus seems genuinely to have flourished in the town. 194 

Despite this diversity of types, the coin issues of Hypaipa are 
dominated by the hieratic image of Anahit; and, as at Hierocae- 
sarea, she is the only divinity whose statue is shown (in this case 
repeatedly) within the central space of a temple facade, depicted 
impressionistically with either four or six columns. 193 The image is 
that of the earlier Gaystrianoi coins except for small details, the 
most notable of which is that the long veil, then set beneath the 
headdress, now lies upon it. 196 Artemis Huntress with her stag ap- 
pears on at least one issue of Hypaipa, of the time of Julia Domna 
(wife of Septimius Severus, 193-21 1); 197 but in this setting it may 
perhaps be Anatolian Artemis who is thus honoured. Other issues of 
Hypaipa of Julia Domna's time bear Anahit's hieratic image. 198 


p. 109 n. 6 with P1.XII.3; see Robert, RN XVIII, 28 n. 16. 

190 See above, p. 223. 

191 Robert, art. cit.. pp. 52-3. 

192 lb., pp. 
19S Head, o.c. 

194 See S. Reinach, Chroniques d'Orient, 150. 

195 Head, op. cit., p. Ill no. 20 (with 4 columns), p. 119 nos. 61, 62 with 
P1.X1I.I2, 13 (with 6 spiral columns); for this handsome coin of the time of Trajan 
(98-1 17) see also Price-Trell, Coins and their cities, 199 fig. 382. 

196 Fleischer, Artemis von Ephesos, 185-6; and for a possible representation of 
Anaitis Artemis on a gemstone from Florence ib., p. 36. 

197 Head, o.c, p. 115 no. 40. 
196 lb., p. 114 no. 33-6, 38-9. 





A design which Hypaipa shares with Hierocaesarea is that of 
Anahit in a horse-drawn biga. The coin in question shows her cult 
statue standing stiffly in the chariot, while one of the horses, 
twisting back its head, offers her a leafy branch. 199 This branch, it is 
suggested, 200 may be a symbol of Anahit as goddess of fertility. 
Leafy branches are associated with her worship in Armenia; and 
the fact that her hieratic image is regularly presented empty- 
handed might make it necessary to display a symbol in some such 
especial way. 201 Another possibility is that the branch is a palm of 
victory, 202 appropriate to Anahit in so far as she is also goddess of 
war. There might then be a link between this symbol and those 
Hypaipa coin-devices which show her together with Nike. On one 
such coin Nike appears driving a chariot in which Anahit's image 
stands. 203 On another, she is crowning the image with a wreath. 20 * 
(Parallels from other places suggest that a wreath was shown 
offered in this way only to a town's chief divinity. 205 ) 

At Hypaipa, as at Hierocaesarea, Anahit is also associated with 
the city Fortune. On one coin the two goddesses stand together, 
Tyche holding rudder and cornucopia. 206 On another Tyche stands 
before a seated Apollo, holding on her right palm Anahit's 
statue, 207 while on a third Tyche and Apollo appear to hold her 
statue between them. 208 On another coin it is Apollo alone who 
holds the statue, while on yet another it is he who crowns it. 209 This 
marked linking of Apollo and Anahit-Artemis in the setting of 
Anahit's own temple-town probably had Iranian overtones. It is 
true that Apollo's worship, independently of Anahit's, is attested 
elsewhere in the Cayster valley 210 , and that Apollo and Artemis, as 

m Robert, RN XVIII, 43-7 with PI. II. 6. 

200 lb., pp. 46-7. 

201 Robert, though suggesting this, illustrates, art. cit., PI. I.I, a. coin from 
Hypaipa in which the goddess, exceptionally, holds some unidentifiable object in 
each hand, see ib., p. 47 n. 102. Cf. a coin from Clannuda (below, p. 246) where 
she holds some object in her right hand only. 

302 Robert, art. cit., p. 47, who suggests as yet another possibility that the 
branch might have a cultic significance, i.e. represent the baresman; but this seems 
less likely, because bansman-lwigs arc stripped of leaves before being tied together 
to form a bundle. 

203 Robert, art. cit., pp. 40 with n. 73, 55-6; RN XIX, 1977, 46-7. 

204 Head, o.c, p. 121 no. 72 with PI. XII. 14; Robert, RN XVIII, PI. 1.4, 

205 See Robert, art. cit., p. 43 n. 81. 

206 Head, o.c, p. 115 no. 40; Robert, art. cit., P1.I.3. 

907 Imhoof-Blumer, Lyd. Stadtmiinzen, pp. 80-1 no. 12 with P1.IV.8. 

20S References apud Robert, art. cit., p. 36 n. 35. 

!W See Robert, ibid. 

213 See Robert, art. cit., p. 36 n. 56. 



brother and sister, are constantly associated in Greco- Anatolian 
worship and mythology; but from the time at least of Artaxerxes II 
a special link was forged between "Anahit" and Mithra, as the two 
lesser members of a triad dominated by Ahura Mazda, and this 
link may be visually affirmed by these devices on Hypaipa's coins, 
since Apollo was one of the standard "interpretations" of Mithra, 
as Artemis was of Anahit. 

Another Hypaipa coin shows on the obverse a youthful figure, 
perhaps Dionysus (his local cult being thus acknowledged) , hold- 
ing Anahit's statue. Facing him is the reigning emperor, Septimius 
Severus, spear in left hand, in the right a bowl; and between them 
fire flames up from a conical "altar". 2 " On another similar coin it 
is Tyche who stands opposite Septimius, carrying the statue. 212 
There are moreover several coins which show on the reverse a 
temple facade with in the central space a similar conical "altar" 
with leaping flames." 1 Presenting fire in this way seems a declara- 
tion that it was cultically as important at Hypaipa as Anahit 
herself. 2 H The shape of the fire-holder is not one known from 
elsewhere in the Zoroastrian world; but it may well have been 
made of solid stone, hollowed out to contain the deep bed of ash 
needed to sustain an ever-burning fire. 215 

That the fires depicted on the coins of Hypaipa and Hierocae- 
sarea were ever-burning is established by Pausanias' invaluable 
account of these two sanctuaries, 216 written in the second century 
A.C. by a man thought himself to be a native of Lydia. Because of a 
grammatical defect, the opening sentence of this account is suscep- 
tible of two different interpretations. One, which disregards the 
faulty grammar, runs: "Those of the Lydians who are popularly 
called Persians have a temple at the city named Hierocaesarea and 
at Hypaipa." The other, by an emendation, goes: "The Lydians 
have a temple [of Artemis/of the goddess] who is called the Persian 
at the city . . ,". 217 Either version, it is pointed out, can be defended 
on the basis of sense. The goddess was undoubtedly distinguished 

211 Head, o.c, p. 1 13 no. 29 with PI.XII.7. 

212 Imhoof-Blumer, Lvd. Stadtmiinzen, PLIV.9. 

2,3 Head, o.c, p. 110 nos. 10-12; 113 no. 13 with PI. XII.8; p. 114 no. 37; p. 
117 no. 49; p. 118 nos. 55-6. 

m Cf. Imhoof-Blumer, o.c, p. 81 n. 14. 

m Cf. the solid stone fire-holder of the former Atas Bahram of Yazd (Boyce, 
"The fire-temples of Kerman", Acta Or. XXX, 1966, 57). 

216 V.27.5-6. 

217 The emendation, proposed by Buresch, Aus Lydien, 66, was accepted by 
Wikander. Feuerpriester, 83, and is discussed by Robert, RN XVIII, 29 with nn. 





by the epithet "Persian"; but colonists were also marked off for 
generations in similar fashion from the indigenous Lydians. Pausa- 
nias' account continues: "In each of these temples there is an inner 
chamber, and in this an altar upon which are some ashes of a 
colour unlike that of ordinary ashes. A magus enters the chamber, 
bringing dry wood which he places on the altar. After this he first 
puts a tiara upon his head and next intones an invocation to some 
god or other. The invocation is in a barbarian tongue, and quite 
unintelligible to a Greek. While intoning he peruses a book. This, 
without the application of a light, inevitably causes the wood to 
catch fire and break out into a bright flame." Essentially, this 
account accords well with the Zoroastrian rituals of maintaining a 
lesser sacred fire as these are still observed today. A great fire, an 
Atas Bahram, king in its own temple, is continually kept burning 
brightly; but a lesser one — such as one might expect to find at an 
image shrine, dedicated to ayazata — is allowed to "sleep" under its 
cover of ashes between the five appointed times of daily prayer, 
when it receives the offerings of fuel and incense with recital of an 
Avestan liturgy. The dry wood, laid on the hot ashes, catches fire 
naturally after an interval, without any need of divine intervention. 
The ashes may vary a little in colour according to the wood used, 
but are not ordinarily remarkable in this. 218 

There are two points in Pausanias' description which indicate, 
however, that changes had taken place in local observance during 
the six centuries or so since the Lydian temples had been founded. 
One concerns the tiara. Zoroastrians, and especially their priests, 
were required to keep their heads always covered — a practice 
abandoned generally only in the present century. For a priest to 
enter the presence of a sacred fire bare-headed, and only then to 
put on the tiara, is therefore startlingly unorthopractic. Possibly, 
however, during many years of Greco-Roman rule the magi of 
Hypaipa and Hierocaesarea had given up the tiara for daily wear, 

as cumberous and outlandish, and also the requirement always to 
cover the head. 219 Pausanias' account shows that they nevertheless 
still wore the tiara when it was ritually necessary, as when chanting 
Avesta before a sacred object; the tiara's side-flaps could then be 
used to prevent contaminating breath reaching the consecrated 

The second change is in the reported use by the priest of a book. 
At this time the Avestan script had not been evolved, and it is not 
known whether in Iran itself any serious attempt had yet been 
made to commit the holy texts to writing. The Greek script was, 
however, better adapted to this purpose than the Aramaic one 
(with its limited means of representing vowels); and it is very 
possible that, living in a predominantly literate society, the Greek- 
speaking priests of Lydia had come to write down some of their 
essential liturgical texts in the Avestan language but using the 
Greek alphabet. If so, they would have anticipated by many 
centuries the later practice of Irani and Parsi priests, who came to 
use the Arabic and Gujarati alphabets respectively for this 
purpose. 220 Books in these familiar, current alphabets are essen- 
tially aide-memoires, easier than those in Avestan script for a 
working priest to refer to quickly when refreshing his knowledge of 
a particular passage, or'checking some nicety of detail. Apart from 
tradition, there is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to the use of 
service books during the actual celebration of rites: this is that 
nearlv all observances join words with actions which require the 
use of both hands. 221 It would thus be impossible for a priest 
making the elaborate offering of wood to an Atas Bahram 222 to read 
from a book while doing so. Yet this could be done during the 
simpler ritual for a lesser fire, which consists essentially of placing a 
single billet of wood on the glowing embers beneath their covering 
of ash, and offering incense to the flames when eventually these leap 
up. 223 No such practice is, however, known except, it seems, here in 

318 F. G. has drawn my attention to the fact that in "Temple B" at Surkh Kotal 
(i.e. the fire temple added there in Kushano-Sasanian times) the excavators found 
that ashes associated with the fire-holder were different in colour and texture from 
those of the timbers of the building itself, which had been burnt down. The latter 
were of juniper wood, those from the sacred fire of vine and bamboo 
(D. Schlumberger, M. Le Berre et G. Fussman, Surkh Kotal en Baetriane, Paris 
1983 (Mem. DAFA XXV) I, 42-3).— The wood of fruit or nut trees is used by 
preference for sacred fires by ihe Zoroastrians of Yazd, with the close-grained, 
slow-burning pomegranate favoured above all (Boyce, Stronghold, 75); but 
neither that of vine nor bamboo, although both grow in the region, is now so used 
there. On the presence of sacred fires in image shrines see above, pp. 178-9 and 
below, p. 288. 

219 As we have seen (above, p. 98) even within Iran itself some Zoroastrians 
(probably noblemen) appear to have gone bare-headed during Hellenistic times. 

220 Service books in both scripts were printed in Bombay from the late 19th 
century', those in Arabic script being prepared there by Irani priests and conveyed 
back to their own community. 

^ 3L There is no ritual during the reading of the Vd. during a night celebration of 
the _yasna; but this reading seems to be a relatively late innovation, see Boyce, 
Zoroastrians, 156—7, 165, 206. This is now the only time in any service when a 
priest regularly uses a book. The use of a written text for parts of the Visperad 
^Boyce, Stronghold, 233) is exceptional, borne of harsh necessity, 

222 See Modi, CC, 218-56. 

223 See Modi, ib., p. 221; Boyce, Stronghold, 75. 



Lydia, where the use of a book may have been felt, in that time and 
place, to enhance the solemnity of the rite. 224 

Pausanias' description is of great importance, since it establishes 
that, despite large measures of hellenization at these two famous 
shrines, and their integration in the commercial and political life of 
the province, they were still, half a millennium after Alexander's 
conquest, Zoroastrian places of worship, where sacred fires w r ere 
ritually tended by magi with the recital of a (presumably) Avestan 
liturgy. It has been argued that what Pausanias witnessed had little 
religious content, that it was ritual reduced to the level of folkloric 
survival, performed largely for the benefit of tourists; 225 but this 
interpretation was based largely on the assumption that the Zoro- 
astrianism of Asia Minor was a religio-political implantation by the 
Achaemenians, and that once the expatriate Iranians there were 
deprived of political power, they swiftly made compromises over 
their religion. The thesis that the link between Zoroastrianism and 
state power was vital to the religion's survival has often been 
advanced, chiefly in connection with the Arab conquest of Iran; but 
the particular pieces of evidence cited to support it have all proved 
unsound, while the fact is regularly ignored of the faith's clogged 
survival down to the present day in Iran and India, although in 
both countries its adherents lacked for many centuries any vestige 
of either political or economic power, and in Iran suffered greatly 
for their beliefs. As so often, it is the expatriate Parsis who provide 
instructive parallels for a study of the expatriate Iranians of Anato- 
lia; for they too conformed in many respects to the ways of the 
tolerant society around them, adopting its language, dress and 
customs, and sometimes even (despite protests by their own elders) 
attending Hindu festivals and leaving - offerings at Hindu shrines. 
Outwardly the Parsis might have appeared hinduized to a point 
that threatened their own faith; but in their case an abundance of 
evidence exists to prove that this appearance was superficial, and 
that in essentials they succeeded in keeping their religion both 
orthodox and orthopractic. 226 Admittedly in Lydia, with no caste- 
barriers, the Zoroastrians were evidently socially and culturally 
assimilated to an even greater degree; but, as in India, they were 
under no pressures to adopt any other set of beliefs. Nor is there 
any reason to suppose that they maintained their own without 

In Iran today even a lay person tending a lesser fire learns the relevant Av. 
texts by heart; and it is hard to suppose that Hypaipa's magi would not also have 
50 known them, if only through constant repetition. 

2 " Briant, art. cit. in n. 32, pp. 176-80. 

226 See in outline Bovce, Zoroastrians, 156 fl'. 



conviction. As late as 562 A.C. a Persian king negotiated with 
Byzantium for religious freedom for the Zoroastrians of Anatolia, 
surviving there under persecution; 227 and this accords with evi- 
dence from Sardis, that other non-Christian religions were still 
producing their martyrs around 450. zza The variety of faiths in Asia 
Minor, and the tolerance which they displayed among themselves, 
should not lead one to underestimate the strength and vitality 
which each possessed. 229 

To return to Hypaipa, and the numismatic evidence from there, 
several coin issues illustrate the adoption of a practice widespread 
in Roman imperial times, namely the form of divination known as 
astragolomancy. The coins in question show two young boys sitting 
on the ground before Anahit's statue, playing with bones. 230 There 
is nothing in this form of divination inherently repugnant to Zoro- 
astrians, for dry bones are "clean", especially those from a sacri- 
ficial animal (of which there must have been an abundance at the 
temple); and individual Zoroastrians, no less than other people, 
have often sought ways to know the future, through dreams, omens 
and portents of diverse kinds. This manner of doing so, being then 
fashionable, was doubtless one more means to draw the devout and 
credulous generally, with their offerings, to the shrine. 

Another, more spectacular, fashion of the times was the festival, 
usually annual, in honour of a town's chief divinity. Anahit's 
temples had each doubtless had its own especial annual holy day- 
sin ce its foundation; and such holy days, attracting throngs of 
worshippers, regularly became linked with fairs, and were impor- 
tant commercial occasions (hence the issuing of coins in connection 
with them). Under the Romans an annual festival, the Romaia, 
was an essential feature of the cult of the goddess Roma 211 ; and the 
manner of its celebration set a pattern for that of civic festivals. 
There were always religious ceremonies, with prayers and sacri- 
fices, and a procession which involved all citizens, as participants 
or spectators. Then there were athletic contests, with foot-races, 
boxing and wrestling; and musical and dramatic competitions. 232 
Permission was needed from the authorities to found a civic festi- 
val, but in due course almost every town of any size in the province 

227 See below, p. 257. 

228 Hanfmann and H. Buchwald in Hanfmann, Sardis, 192. 

229 Thus Robert, CRAI 1975, 267-9, cited evidence for what he saw as a depth 
of true piety in the old Phrygian religion, see further below, p. 274 n. 91. 

230 Head, BMC Lydia, p. 118 no. 59 with PI. XII. 11; p. 119 no. 65; p. 120 no. 
70; Robert, RN XVIII, 39-40 with PI.II.5. 

2,1 Cf. above, p. 223. 

See Mellor, Worship of the goddess Roma, 165-73. 



of Asia possessed one, probably in most instances grafted on to an 
older observance. Those taking part in the events were usually from 
towns within the province, for "the great majority of festivals 
offered neither prizes nor prestige sufficient to draw competitors 
from afar". 233 It was the custom nevertheless to put up statues to 
the winners, set on stone pedestals inscribed with their names and 
achievements; and it is in general the survival of such pedestals that 
has yielded information about the Asian festivals. Some half a 
dozen have been found from Hypaipa, and these show that its 
festival was called the "Artemeisia", or "Megala Artemeisia", and 
that it was probably held annually, the celebrations being counted 
in "Artemeisiads". 234 The fifty-eighth Artemeisiad was held some 
time after 212, and a sixty-second one is recorded, while an Ephe- 
sian claimed the honour of winning at a Hypaipa Artemeisiad 
under Maximinus (235-238). 235 The inscriptions of Hypaipa 
themselves record contestants coming from Sardis and Thyatira 
and the more northerly Cyzicus. 

None of the coin issues of Hypaipa bears any device relating to 
its festival, whereas Hierocaesarea struck several issues showing a 
victory crown or agonistic table. Eight pedestal inscriptions have 
been found from there, dating from the second and third centuries, 
although, it is pointed out, the institution may well be older than 
the earliest of them. 236 This festival too was termed "Megala 
Artemeisia", or "Megala Sebasta Artemeisia", the longer title 
linking it formally with the cult of Rome. 

Pausanias, although he speaks generally of the worship in Lydia 
of Anahit (whom he refers to now as Artemis Anaitis, now as the 
Persian Artemis 237 ), names expressly only her temples at Hypaipa 
and Hierocaesarea. Archaeological and numismatic evidence 
shows, however, that her cult continued to flourish at Philadelphia. 
This town prospered under the Roman empire, and was honoured 
by Vespasian (69-79) with permission to instal the cult of the 
Most Holy Senate. 238 Anahit remained, however, its chief divinity, 
as is proved by the fact that its festival was named for her, being 
called the "Anaiteia" or "Megala Sebasta Anaiteia". Again, the 
evidence comes from the inscribed bases of winners' statues, six of 


233 lb., p. 166. 

334 J Keil, "Artemisfescspiele in Hypaipa'. Jahreshefte Oesterr. Inst. X, 
Beiblatt, 35-W; Keil-von Premerstein, DAW 57, 1914, 73 nos. 92-4; Robert, art. 
cit. : pp. 32-6 and REG 79, 1966, 753 with n. 1. 

2ib Robert, RN XVIII, 34 n. 43. 

236 Robert, Hellenica VI, 1948, 43-8. 

237 III. 16.8; VII.6.6. 

* 3a Robert, Monnaies grecques, 73-8; Magie, RR, 570. 



which were found near the ruins of the ancient city, 239 Yet though 
the festival's name seems to indicate a strong Iranian tradition, and 
though in one of the six inscriptions the goddess is called "Artemis 
Anaitis", in the other five she appears as "Meter Artemis". The 
epithet "Mother" is unknown in the worship of Anahit, but is 
standard in that of Anatolian Gybele, which had existed in Lydia 
long before Zoroastrianism was brought there. Further evidence for 
a syncretism of the two goddesses has been traced on a Philadel- 
phian coin from the reign of Domitian (81— 96). 24fl Its reverse shows 
a goddess enthroned, of a familiar Cybele type: to the left, at her 
feet, stands Gybele's animal, a lion, but her right hand rests on 
another creature, namely Artemis' deer; and since the coin was 
issued by a town whose patron divinity was Persian Artemis, this 
juxtaposition of beasts has been interpreted as a visual declaration 
of a local syncretism attested also by the pedestal inscriptions. The 
syncretism is thus as old as the first century A. C, and it is likely to 
be in fact a good deal older, for at its foundation in the second 
century B.C. Philadelphia, as we have seen, probably absorbed the 
Lydian population of ancient Calletebus nearby. 241 Anahit's con- 
cept appears to have been dominant, however; and on an alliance 
coin with Smyrna under Gordian III (238-244) she alone repre- 
sents Philadelphia, in the guise of Artemis Huntress. 242 One of the 
town's early issues, of Hellenistic times, had had Artemis Huntress 
on the obverse, Apollo on the reverse; 243 and Artemis Huntress 
appears under the Roman empire with hound beside her. 244 There 
is also an issue which has on its reverse Athena holding on her right 
palm the hieratic statue of Anahit 245 — a clear instance of one town 
using representations of both Anahit's standard cult images. A deer 
appears on several other reverses. 246 But the abundant issues of 
Philadelphia bear varied devices, and Anahit in no way predomi- 
nates among them, as she does at Hierocaesarea and even at 
Hypaipa. Moreover, the character of her actual worship there 
remains a matter for speculation. There is no evidence of a fire-cult, 
and it seems likely that the use of Avestan in the religious services 
had either become attenuated or had yielded wholly to Greek. 
Philadelphia looked across the Cogamis valley to Burnt Lydia. 

239 Keil-von Premerstein, DWA 53.2, 1908, 24-5. 
J4 ° Robert, Monnaies grecques, 73—5. 

241 Above, p. 215. 

242 Head, BMC Lydia, p. 210 no. 119. 

aw lb., p. 1B8 nos. 8-15 with Pl.XXI.3-5. 

244 lb., p. 194 nos. 45-7. 

245 I mhoof-Blumer, Kleinas. Miinzen, pp. 181-2 nos. 8—9. 

246 Head, o.c, p. 190 no. 25 with P1.XXI.10; p. 191 no. 28. 



which the Romans called Maeonia after its chief town (modern 
Menye). To the east Maeonia marched with Phrygia, and Phrygian 
cults were among those which flourished there; but at the heart of 
the region, in and around the modern town of Kula, a remarkable 
number of inscriptions has been found in which Anahit's name 
occurs. These are attributed to the second and early third centu- 
ries, and their content is confessional in character, one term for 
them being ''chastisement texts". Those putting up the inscriptions 
represent themselves as having committed some moral or ritual 
fault; and they see themselves as having been chastised for this by 
the god, "generally with some disease, sometimes through their 
property, or their children; they confess and acknowledge their 
fault; and finally they narrate the whole in a public inscription as a 
warning and an exemplar to all not to treat the god lightly". 247 
Often the text is accompanied by a representation of the part that 
has been afflicted, such as a leg or arm. Such beliefs are to be found 
generally among the religions of the world, and parallels occur in 
Irani Zoroastrian villages today. 246 It is only their public declara- 
tion in abiding stone which was a custom for a particular time and 
place. Unfortunately, sinee such texts followed a standard pattern, 
they throw little light on the worship of the chastising divinity, 
apart from establishing his or her veneration in that locality. There 
is also the interest of the cult names used, and often, in the Kula 
inscriptions, that of the association of gods. Anahit herself fre- 
quently appears linked with another divinity; but this does not 
necessarily, it is pointed out, imply a cultic association between the 
two. It may mean no more than that they were conjoined in the 
devotions of the author of the inscription.^ 49 In one text, however, 
at the village of Sandal (formerly Satala), a certain Aur. Stratoni- 
cus confesses to having been punished by Zeus Sabazios (a 
Thraco-Phrygian god) and Artemis Anaitis because he had cut 
wood in their sacred grove, 250 This undoubtedly suggests a fixed 
local association between these two divinities. It is noticeable, 
moreover, that Anahit's links are all with a male divinity, either, as 
here, Zeus Sabazios, or the Phrygian god Men Tiamu, worship 

2i7 Ramsay, Cities, I 135. For an analytic study of the "chastisement texts' 
with bibliography, see Robert, Nouvelles inscriptions de Sardcs, 23-31. 

2W See. e.g.; Boyce, Stronghold, 95. 
349 Robert, RN XVIII, 48 n. 107. 

350 See Ramsay, " Artemis- Leto and ApoIIo-Lairbenos" , JHS X, 1889, 227 no. 
22; S. Reinach, Chroniques d'Orient, 157. who cites a Turkish scholar as saying 
that this prohibition remained effective down to the Late 19th century, for the 
Turkish inhabitants of Santal then still believed that anyone cutting wood in the 
grove would be punished by some illness. 



thus being regularly of a divine pair. 250a She is also repeatedly named 
alone, with the cult title "Meter" which indicates that here, as at 
Philadelphia, there was an assimilation or her concept to that or 
Cybele. The distribution of the inscriptions with her name, and the 
forms of her invocation, are as follows; 251 three at Kula itself, one as 
"Thea Anaitis", one as "Artemis Anaitis", both in association with 
Men Tiamu, and one as "Meter Anaitis" alone. In the villages 
round about, one at Sandal (that already cited); three at Ajas 
Oren, as "Thea Anaitis" and "Meter Anaitis", all with Men 
Tiamu; and five at Aiwadlar, as "Anaitis", "Thea Anaitis", "Arte- 
mis Anaitis" and "Meter Anaitis", only once in association with 
another divinity, namely Men Tiamu. It may also be Anahit who is 
invoked alone, as "Meter Anatidos", at Giirneit. There is also an 
inscription from this area which links Anahit with Apollo, but in an 
unusual way: it contains a chastisement text that declares the 
sinner to have been punished by Apollo, but before it stand the 
words Megale Anaitis, "Great (is) Anaitis", a formula which has 
been compared with "Great is X>iana of the Ephesians". 252 — The 
number of inscriptions naming Anahit in this small area has led to 
the reasonable assumption that there was once a temple to her 
there which fostered her veneration, not only, it would seem, 
among Iranian colonists but also among Phrygo-Lydian villagers. 
A votive inscription, also honouring the goddess, but without the 
elements of guilt and chastisement, has been found at Golde, a 
village a little to the north of Kula, which has yielded a number of 
monuments dedicated to diverse divinities. The one in question is 
devoted to Artemis Anaitis and records that "Charity, daughter of 
Apollonius" having "had a calamity" (presumably, that is, some 
serious illness) had been "freed from enchantment" by the 
priestess. 253 In this village setting a "priestess" (kiereia) might 
perhaps be no more than a lay woman of holy life who tended a 
small shrine to Anahit; such women are to be found today in 
Zoroastrian villages, where they too are prepared to help cure 
suffering women by traditional rites. 2S4 But over the Golde inscrip- 
tion is carved the hieratic image of Ephesian Artemis, with fertility 
symbols at her breast, and this goddess was served by priestesses. 

For evidence of the widespread Iranian worship of a divine pair from 
Achaemenian times onward see above, pp. 187-9. 

251 See J. Keil, Festschrift W. M. Ramsay, 250-1. 

252 Ramsay, art. cit., p. 226 no. 21. 

2M Cumont, "Un bas-relief votif consacre a Anaitis", CRAI 1915, 270-5; 
Robert, Hellcnica X, 1955, 102 n. 10. 
25,4 See, e-g., Boyce, Stronghold, 62—3. 





Above her image again is that of a solar divinity. The nature of the 
cult here is thus far from clear. 255 

Three lines from the beginning of a typical "chastisement text" 
devoted to Artemis Anaitis have been discovered also at Sardis. 256 
A pair of eyes carved between the first and second lines shows that 
the sufferer, a woman, had been afflicted in her sight. Her father, it 
seems, came from an otherwise unknown village — presumably, 
that is, he was a landowner, since his daughter evidently had 
means. Possibly she had brought her veneration of the Persian 
goddess with her from her ancestral home, for there is no evidence 
for Anahit's cult having had a centre in Roman Sardis, any more 
than in the Hellenistic city. 257 

In Celenae/Apamea the long-established cult of Anahit con- 
tinued to flourish. The evidence in this case is solely numismatic, 
but it is striking. As a centre of trade, Apamea issued coins early 
and abundantly; and the Artemis who appears on them repeatedly 
may reasonably be held, in this town, 258 to represent the Persian 
goddess, though the iconography is confused: both the hieratic 
image of Hypaipa, and Artemis Huntress, are used, and the former 
is sometimes supplied with attributes proper to Ephesian Artemis. 
The earliest bronze issues were struck in Roman republican times, 
and among them are coins with Zeus' head on the obverse, and on 
the reverse the hieratic image of Anahit, with fillets hanging from 
her hands. 259 Another issue has on the obverse the bust of Artemis 
Huntress wearing the turreted crown of a city goddess, with on the 
reverse the river-god Marsyas blowing his double flute as he strides 
over a wavy line representing the Maeander. 260 The hieratic image 
of Anahit appears again on a coin of Augustus' reign, this time itself 
set above the Maeander line, 261 and the stag of Artemis is similarly 
shown; 262 but the most remarkable coin, again from imperial times, 
shows the hieratic Artemis (with fertility symbols) standing amid 
four recumbent river-gods, identified in Greek letters as MAI 

255 Cumont's comments on the solar divinity, whom he saw as Mithra, forming 
a. pair with Anahit, are dismissed as unacceptable by Robert, I.e. 

256 See, with a brilliant analysis, Robert, Nouvelles inscriptions de Sardes, 

257 Only one other small fragment of an inscription has been found from there 
bearing her name, see Hanfmann, Sardis, 104 with p. 256 n. 18. 

258 Gf. above, p. 208. 

259 Head, BMC Phrygia, 74 with Pl.X.6-7; Imhoof-Blumer, Kleinas. Miinzen, 
I 207 no. 6. 

Imhoof-Blumer, o.c, p. 207 no. 7 with P1.VII.5. 
lb., p. 209 no. 13a. 
2&2 lb., p. 210 no. 16. 

(Maeander), MAR (Marsyas), OR (Orgas) and THER (Therma). 2 * 3 
On her head, above the katathos, the goddess supports the model of 
a temple, presumably her own at Apamea. The ancient link be- 
tween "Anahit" and rivers is thus made strikingly explicit. That 
not only the cult of the Iranian goddess but also the descendants of 
Iranian colonists continued to thrive at Apamea is shown by the 
fact that a father and son there, named Mithridates and Mithrida- 
tianos, enjoyed Roman citizenship and held, successively, the office 
of high priest of the province of Asia. 264 While holding it these two 
would necessarily have been in regular contact with the high priests 
of Hypaipa and Hierocaesarea, whom they would almost certainly 
have known in any case, not only as fellow- Iranians and worship- 
pers of Anahit, but also as fellow-members of a provincial aristoc- 
racy of lineage and power. 

Anahit's link with the waters is celebrated also in an inscription 
from the Lydian town of Silandos. This was a place of minor 
importance, set in the lovely valley of a small right-bank tributary 
of the Hermus, above Sardis; 265 and like Apamea itself, it was 
admirably suited, because of the abundance of its waters, to the 
worship of a river-goddess. The inscription in question was put up 
in 153 A.G. by a mother for her son, and it ends with the words: 
"Should anyone trespass against the tomb after my death, he will 
awake the wrath of Anaitis of the sacred water". 266 This last 
expression must refer, it has been pointed out 267 , to the whole 
"creation" of water, sacred to Zoroastrians: according to one of 
their ancient myths, all the waters of the world have their source 
with Aredvi Sura Anahita. 

Rather remarkably, another maledictory funerary inscription 
from the upper Hermus valley brings out the other aspect of 
Anahit's composite concept. This inscription was found not far 
from the town of Davala (ancient Tabala); and here the divinities 
invoked to punish whoever might disturb the grave are "Apollo 
and the Lady {Kuria) Anaitis". 268 The title "Lady" has no Avestan 


363 Paris, Cabinet des medallles no. 535, see Mionnet, IV 236, 259; Sammlung 
von Aulock Phrygien (1964), 3508 (references given by P. Chuvin, art. at. m n. 10, 
ti. 16). Reproduced and discussed by Ramsay, Cities, II 398-9 with Pl.I.l; 
Imhoof-Blumer, "Fluss- und Meergotter", 316 no. 356; cf. also Head, BMC 
Phrygia, xxxix-xl. On the rivers concerned see above, p. 200, 

2ci MAMA VI, 182, 787-90, see Robert, Noms indigenes, 349 with n. 3. 

265 Robert, RN XVIII, 45. 

s< * Buresch, Aus Lydien, 117 no. 56; Cumont, CRAI 1915, 274-5. 

267 Robert, art. cit., p. 46. 

268 See P. Herrmann, Ergebnisse einer Reise in Nordostlydien, p. 59 no. 54; 
Robert, art. dr., p. 48 n. 107; CRAI 1978, p. 282. 





equivalent, but is a standard one for Babylonian Ishtar, from 
whom it was evidently borrowed into " Anahit V cult, becoming a 
characteristic epithet for that divinity. (The title of "Lady" was 
likewise alien, it seems, to Ephesian Artemis; yet Greek kuria is 
recorded, exceptionally, for her also, 269 and perhaps reflects a 
borrowing by her from the Persian Artemis.) 

In addition to these places where Anahit's active veneration is 
still attested under Roman imperial rule, there are a number of 
towns which honoured the "Persian goddess" by putting her image 
occasionally on their coins, presumably as that of one of the chief 
divinities of the province of Asia, and possibly also because of an 
Iranian element among their citizenry. Unusual instances occur at 
Apollonis, an Attalid foundation to the north-west of Hierocae- 
sarea. Among its coins of Roman imperial times are some which are 
exact copies of Hierocaesarean issues, with Artemis Huntress on 
the obverse, on the reverse a flaming "altar" or standing stag, 270 
Artemis Huntress with deer appears also on coins of Hyrcanis, 271 
and the Iranian element in that town's population makes it likely 
that there too she represents Anahit. Otherwise it is only the 
distinctive Hypaipa-type image which can be identified with rea- 
sonable certainty as "Persian Artemis". 

One such issue belongs to Maeonia, which struck abundant 
coins in the Roman period. Among them one from the time of Geta 
(211-212) has Anahit's hieratic statue on the reverse, with a fillet 
hanging from each hand, and on either side a small stag looking up 
at her. 272 An earlier coin of republican times from Clannuda f a 
small town in the east of Burnt Lydia, has the head of Apollo on the 
obverse, on the reverse Anahit's statue, shown unusually with a 
round object in her hand. 273 Another of its issues has on the reverse 
a zebu, possibly as Anahit's sacred animal. 274 Anahit's statue 

Ramsay, Cities, I 90, 150 (who points out that the equivalent kurios for 
Apoilo also has a Semitic character). 

270 Imhoof-Blumer, Rev. Suisse de num.VI, 1896, 9-10; Head, BMC Lydia, 

371 Imhoof-Blumer, Lyd. Stadtmiinzen, 84- no. 3; Kieinas. Miinzen, 174 no. I; 
cf. Robert, Hellenica VI, 1948, 20 with nn. 1, 2. On Hyrcanis see above, pp. 201, 
213. An. inscription has been found at modern Gurice, possibly within the territory 
of Hyrcanis, which records that il the people" there, both Hellenes and Romans, 
had honoured one "Marcus Antonios Bagaos", an Iranian by blood, it would 
seem, see Robert, art. cit., p. 19 n. 3. 

272 Head, ac, p. 135 no. 51. 

" 3 Imhoof-Bhjmer, Rev. Suisse de num. VI, 210 with PI. III. 16; Head, o.c, 
p. xlviii. 

27 * Imhoof-Blumer, art. cit., p. 210; Lyd. Stadtmiinzen, 59 no. 2 with PL III- 1 7, 
cf. his Kieinas. Miinzen, 176, and on the zebu above, p. xxx. 

appears also on a coin of the first century A.C. from Cadi (Kadoi), 
another small town on a swiftly flowing tributary of the upper 
Hermus. 275 Here the name Mithradates appears as that of a mint- 
controller on a coin of the time of Commodus. 276 

Other instances come from towns along the Maeander river- 
system, notably Alabanda, one of the largest inland towns of Caria, 
which stood on the bank of the Garian Marsyas, a tributary of the 
Maeander. In Achaemenian times Alabanda is likely to have had 
regular communications with Sardis by the Hypaipa road; and 
among its early coin issues, of the second century B.C., is one with 
the hieratic image of Artemis on the obverse, and on the reverse the 
head of Apollo, while another (of Seleucid times) has Apollo on the 
obverse, on the reverse Pegasus. 277 Pegasus, through his link with 
Perseus, could have Iranian connotations, 278 just as Apollo, linked 
with Anahit, might represent Mithra. Possibly, therefore, Ala- 
banda had prominent Iranian citizens at that time. 

In the upper valley of the Maeander itself, at the Carian- 
Phrygian border, the ancient town of Attuda set the hieratic image 
of Anahit, with fillets hanging from her hands, on a coin of the time 
of Septimius Severus (193^21 1) . On the obverse is the city 
Fortune. 279 Anahit appears also, without fillets, on another coin 
with Boule and a youthful Demos on the obverse. 280 Her image has 
also been identified, but more doubtfully, on a series of coins from 
Kidramos, a little downstream from Attuda. 281 

Of the other Zoroastrianja^afa whose worship is directly attested 
in Achaemenian Lydia, namely Ahura Mazda himself, little trace 
is to be certainly found in the Roman province of Asia. In Sardis 
itself, where the veneration of Zeus Baradates had formerly been 
established, 282 matters are problematic. The city instituted the cult 

! ' 5 Imhoof-Blumer, Kieinas. Miinzen, 248 no- 2; on Cadi see Head, BMC 
Phrygia, xlii-xliv; Jones, Cities, 44, 
275 Alram, Nomina, 96. 
3,7 Head, BMC Caria, 1 ff., 3 with PI 1. 10. 

278 Cf. above, p. 230. 

279 Head, o.c, p. 64 with PI. X.I3. On Attuda see ib., pp. xxxix-xli; Ramsay. 
Cities, I 165-9. 

280 Imhoof-Blumer, Kieinas. Miinzen, p. 124 no. 8. 

2BI See ib., pp. 139-42 with PI. V. 14-17. A goddess dominates the town's 
coinage, which begins in Roman imperial times; but she is first shown, under 
Augustus, wearing a curious, three-pointed kalattios, and standing in a graceful, 
almost seductive pose; and though this pose is steadily modified, it is not until the 
lime of Hadrian (117-138) that the image gains a truly archaic look. On all issues 
it appears with empty hands and no attributes, which made Imhoof-Blumer 
incline to identify it as that of Anahit rather than Carian Aphrodite (ib. 3 pp. 

283 Cf. above, p. 205. 





of Roma, probably in 129 B.C., and in due course built a temple to 
Augustus. 283 It suffered greatly in the earthquake of 17 AC., and 
shared then in Tiberius' benefactions, renaming itself briefly "Cae- 
sareia Sardianeon". 284 Eventually it was granted the privilege of 
building a temple of the imperial cult, perhaps under Hadrian, who 
visited it in 123—124 and in 128. Meantime rebuilding had been 
proceeding slowly of the Artemis Temple, destroyed by the earth- 
quake. The new edifice, finished, it is thought, about 140, was then 
made into a second temple of imperial cult. Fragments survive of 
two huge statues of Antoninus Pius (138—161) and his wife Faus- 
tina Maior, which were set up there, joining those of Sardian 
Artemis and Zeus Polieus. An inscription honouring Antoninus as 
"Olympios" has been tentatively associated with an altar bearing 
Zeus' eagle; and it has been deduced that he, as Zeus Olympios, 
was joined with Zeus Polieus, even as Trajan had been joined with 
Zeus Philios in Pergamum. 285 

Zeus Polieus, "of the city", is probably himself, it has been 
argued, descended from Zeus Baradates; for the text from the time 
of his image's consecration in the fourth century B.C., then pre- 
sumably a trilingual (in Aramaic, Lydian and Greek), was carved 
afresh in its Greek version only, probably in the mid second century 
A.C., 286 and a new sentence was apparently added: "They order 
the attendant Dorates to abstain from these mysteries", i.e. those of 
religions other than the god's own, as specified in the old text. This 
inscription has been linked with another Sardian one of about 100 
A.G., which honours a citizen who had by long family tradition 
shown piety "towards the divine", and who had therefore been 
"consecrated" and "crowned" by "'the attendants of Zeus who 
have the right to enter the sanctuary". The similarity of phrasing 
between this and the inscription of the fourth century B.C. has led 
to the deduction that this text too refers to the cult of Persian 
"Zeus", i.e. of Ahura Mazda. 28 ' Five hundred years is not unduly 
long in the history of Zoroastrianism; and these two inscriptions of 
Roman imperial times have been held to attest the continuance 
throughout that length of time of a Sardian sanctuary of its su- 
preme God. 288 Excavators have not, however, been able to identify 
any separate shrine so dedicated; and if Zeus Baradates was in fact 

aM See Keil. Festschrift W. M. Ramsay, 246; Magie, RR, 1613 (Appendix III); 
Hanfmann, Sardis, 134. 

384 Hanfmann, o.c, p. 144. 

285 Hanfmann, o.c, p. 145. 

286 Robert, CRAI 1975, 306-31. 

287 Robert, I.e., p. 320 ff. 

288 See also Briant, Dialogues d'histoire ancienne, 1985, 181- 



venerated also as Zeus Polieus, then how was his worship main- 
tained in a temple which he shared with Sardian Artemis and a 
Roman emperor cult? What liturgy was used at his altar, and what 
specific beliefs did it enshrine? There are at present no data to help 
provide answers to such questions. 

A single surviving inscription from the province of Asia in 
Roman imperial times attests the local veneration still of the 
"Persian gods" collectively — presumably, that is, Ahura Mazda 
and all theyazatas. To the south of the Maeander, where Phrygia 
marched with Garia, there stretches from north to south the valley 
of Karayiik (ancient Themisonion), shut off from Garia by a long 
mountain range; 289 and here at the modern town of Acipayam, on a 
stone built into a courtyard wall, a remarkable funerary inscription 
was found, invoking the "gods of the Greeks and Persians". 290 The 
valley was largely inhabited by Pisidians, who called on their own 
gods; but the town of Themisonion had been founded by Antiochus 
I; and the descendants of Achaemenian and Macedonian colonists 
in the area had evidently held to their own beliefs down the 
centuries, mingling the two, at least in some families. This is yet 
another piece of evidence for the tendency (which we have met 
already in Lydia and in distant Arachosia) for expatriate represen- 
tatives of the two erstwhile ruling powers to form amicable relation- 

An Iranian presence in this part of Phrygia is further attested by 
the names Mithres recorded at Cibyra (the chief town of the Indus 
valley) and Artabazes near modern Beykoy, on the road from 
Cibyra eastward to Tefeni. 291 Other Iranian names from the 
Roman period from north-eastern Garia are Artapates, Mithridates 
and Oumanios ("son of Omanes") from Aphrodisias 292 ; and Mi- 
thres and Artabazes from Tabai and Sebastopolis 293 . Along the 
Maeander river-system Arsaces, and Mithres son of Mithres, are 
recorded at Laodicia in the Lycus valley, 294 and Mardonios 
at Apollonia-Tripolitana 295 , as well as Mandanes (borne by a woman 
of consular family) at Tralles. 2M In the Cayster valley Mithres is 

399 See Ramsay, Cities, I 252 ff ("Kara Evuk Bazar"); J. et L. Robert, La 
Carie, II 31 £ 
390 Robert, CRAI 1978, 277-86. 

291 See J. et L. Robert, La Carie, II 79 n. 7. 

292 Robert, CRAI 1978, 285; BCH CVII, 1983. 505-8. 

293 J. et L. Robert, La Cane, II 79; L. Robert in Laodicee du Lycos, 333, 334 
with n. 1 . 

Robert in Laodicee du Lycos, I.e. 
295 Cf. above, p. 216 with n. 100. 

Robert, Noms indigenes, 217- 







twice attested at Dios Hieron, 297 and also at Hypaipa, with 
Mardonios, 298 while Omanes is found at Magnesia-by-Sipylus. 299 
At Sardis Mithres occurs repeatedly, Mithrodates [sic] once 300 , and 
a Darios. 301 At Giirice there is Bagoas, 302 and at Hierocaesarea, as 
well as Mithres, Spasines 303 ; while at Celenae-Apamea we have met 
Mithridates and Mithridatianos. 304 

By Roman times these names had presumably long been tradi- 
tional in the families concerned, rather than being consciously 
chosen for their significance. Of the theophoric ones, "Omanes' 1 
(i.e. Vohu manah) is distinctively Zoroastrian, 305 and those com- 
pounded with Arta- had religious significance; but what is striking 
is the popularity of "Mithra" names. Moreover, since Iranian 
Mithra was regularly "interpreted" by Greek Apollo it is undoubt- 
edly possible that when "Apollo" is linked visually or verbally with 
Anahit Artemis, 306 or appears with other Persian associations, 307 he 
is representing the Iranian yazata; and also that "Apollonius" was 
sometimes deliberately chosen by Iranians as a Greek name be- 
cause of this association. This possibility seems strong in the case of 
Apollonius the archimagos of Hypaipa 308 , and is also present in that 
of Apollonius father of Charity, priestess of Artemis Anaitis at 
Golde. 309 

The general inclination to use Greek names and terms, as 
belonging to the dominant culture, makes it also possible that 
where there were Iranians, as at Philadelphia, 310 the veneration of 
Ahura Mazda, the one eternal God of Zoroastrian worship, at least 

397 Head, BMC Lydia, 11; Robert, RN XVIII, 31 with n. 29; Alram, Nomina, 
p. 90, Taf. 9.268-70. Dios Hieron (modern Birghi) is east of Hypaipa, in the 
valley of another right-bank, tributary of the Cayster. 

298 Robert, ib. t p. 31 with nn. 26, 27, p. 35 with n, 5; Alram, o.c, p. 9), Taf 

299 Robert, BCH CVI, 1982, 373, and cf ib., CVII, 1983, 505-6. CVIII, 1984, 

300 Hanfmann, Sardis, 127: Robert, BCH, CVI 363-4, 367; Alram. o.c, p. 93, 
Taf. 9.276, 281-4. 

301 Alram, o.c, p. 93, Taf. 9.277-80. 

302 Cf. above, p. 246 n. 271. 

303 Robert, Hellenica VI, 1948, 29 with n. 6; "Bull ep.", REG 89, 1976, 542-3. 

304 Above, p. 245. 

305 Cf. below, p. 270. 

306 Cf. above, p. 234 (Hypaipa), p. 241 (Philadelphia), p, 243 (Kula), p. 245 
(the maledictory text from nearDavala), p. 246 (Maeonia and Clannuda), p. 247 

30 ' As when, at Hierocaesarea, the son of a "Mithres" erects an altar to "Apolio 
the Healer", above, p. 233. 
3aB Above, p. 224. 

309 Above, p. 243. 

310 Keil-von Premerstein, DWA I. 27 no. 39. 

contributed to, if it was not represented by, veneration of Theos 
Hypsistos, the "Most High God", who elsewhere masks Olympian 
Zeus or Jewish Yahweh. 3 " 

Nothing is directly known about the extinction of Zoroastrianism 
in the Roman province of Asia, For a time it was supposed that the 
town of Hypaipa was still officially represented by the high priest of 
its Anahit temple around 410 A.C.; for the inscription from there 
containing the name of "Apollonius the archimagos" il2 is carved on a 
pedestal which bears on its two sides epigrams in honour of 
Anthemios, proconsul of Asia at about that date. Such a state of 
affairs would, however, have been very remarkable, for in 392 an 
imperial decree had been issued ordering all places of worship 
other than Christian and Jewish ones to be closed; and Hypaipa 
had become the seat of a Christian bishopric well before then. In 
fact, it has been convincingly shown that the pedestal in question 
was an old one re-used by having the epigrams for Anthemios 
carved on its previously blank sides, and Apollonius' own dedica- 
tion (above his name) erased. The epigrams have thus no connec- 
tion with him. 313 With this piece of assumed evidence disposed of, 
nothing remains to attest a public Zoroastrian presence in the 
province after the mid third century A.C. Coin issues with Zoroas- 
trian devices then cease, as do monuments for the festivals of the 
Persian Artemis, in Hypaipa and Hierocaesarea, Philadelphia and 
Celenae-Apamea. There is, however, only one piece of direct 
evidence for the triumph of Christianity over the ancient Iranian 
religion, and that is that the bishop of Hypaipa who in 325 
attended the council of Nicea was named Mithres. 314 With this 
name, coming from this place, he was almost certainly, it is agreed, 
of Zoroastrian descent. 


The difficulties in the way of recovering knowledge of Zoroastri- 
anism in south-west Asia Minor are clearly great, what with the 
large-scale destruction of monuments and inscriptions, and the 
general cultural hellenization. The remarkable amount of material 
which has nevertheless been discovered suggests that there was still 

311 For the occurrence of "Hypsistos" inscriptions in the province of Asia see 
G. Kitiel, "Das kleinasiatische Judentum in der hellenistisch-romischen Zeit", 
TLZ 69, 1944, 16 with nn. 112-19. 

3,7 See above, p. 224. 

3,3 Robert, Hellenica IV, 1948, 19 n. 1; RN XVIII, 1976, 32 n. 30. 

314 Cumont, TMMM, I 46, II 81 no. 81; Robert, £t. epig. et phil., 211 with n. 2. 





a considerable and flourishing Zoroastrian minority in the region 
down to the third century A.G. Then the evidence ceases. Its 
temples were presumably closed or pulled down, and, with the 
public life of the religion suppressed, there is no means of tracing 
how long it survived as the private faith of individuals. Zoroastrian 
communities are known to have existed in Asia Minor still in the 
sixth century; 315 but it seems likely that these survived till then in 
remoter rural regions, most probably in Cappadocia and Cilicia. 

What character the Iranian religion took on in the final phase of 
its existence in the Roman province of Asia cannot be certainly 
determined; and indeed this may have varied considerably from 
group to group of its adherents. The three jazatas whose worship is 
principally attested are Ahura Mazda himself, Mithra (through 
the predominance of theophoric names compounded with his, and 
the likelihood that, in particular instances, it is he who is venerated 
as "Apollo"), and above all Anahit; and these are the triad invoked 
by Artaxerxes II, which suggests continuity of worship from late 
Achaemenian times, with Persian influence having then been 
strong. The prominence of Anahit appears due to the effectiveness 
of initial royal patronage, and the importance of temples, in this 
area of many temples, for fostering a particular cult. Because it was 
richly provided with sacred buildings, and so with recognizable 
institutions, Anahit's worship became part of the religious and civic 
life of the province; and in some places, notably Philadelphia and 
the Kula region, it seems to have developed into a virtually inde- 
pendent cult, merged partly with the locally more ancient one of 
Cybele. This development is of interest not only in itself, but 
because it provides something of a parallel to Mithra's worship 
becoming detached for some from Zoroastrian ism and taking on a 
life of its own, as is attested by the Mithraic Mysteries. 

At Hierocaesarea and Hypaipa, the evidence indicates, Zoroas- 
trian traditions were better preserved, with the maintenance of the 
fire cult and Avestan liturgy, and no indication of syncretism; but 
how well even there Zoroastrian doctrine was understood and 
taught there is no means of knowing. Some indications accord, 
however, with general developments which have been traced in the 
religions of expatriate communities in the Greco-Roman world. In 
these, it has been noted, 315 there were usually the actively devout, 

315 See further below, p. 257. 

3J6 Morton Smith, "Religions in Hellenistic times", Report of the 1965-1966 
seminar on Religions in Antiquity, ed. J. Neusner, Dartmouth College Compara- 
tive Studies Center, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1966 (privately printed; privately 
repr. by Brown University, 198+), 158 ff 

worshipping regularly according to their traditional beliefs and 
ways, with others who, while holding to the faith as part of their 
culture and history, were only casually observant. Other groups 
formed around these two. made up of people of different ethnic 
stocks, who were drawn into the religious community by marriage, 
friendship, or perhaps a miraculous cure, or were attracted by its 
beliefs and observances, or respectful of the reputation of its gods. 
Beyond these again was the general body of citizens of different 
religious persuasions, who joined in its festivals as in all others, 
made offerings at its temples out of prudence or civic pride, and, if 
their own priests failed them, sought cures and prognostications 
there. In time the interaction of these various groups led to the 
influence of the more casual majority being increasingly felt, so that 
there came about varying degrees of hellenization and syncretiza- 
tion. The latter process was helped by other factors, an important 
one being the general spread of interest in astrology, which made it 
all the easier to identify beings of one faith with those of another 
through their common association with a particular planet or 



The existence in Zoroastrianism of many yazatas made some 
measure of syncretism between it and the polytheistic religions 
surrounding it in western Anatolia relatively easy. But the Iranian 
religion was no ordinary polytheism; and if, as the evidence sug- 
gests, its adherents became strongly hellenized in this region, this 
gave them the opportunity, through a common language and ready 
opportunities for discussion, to give some of their own doctrines 
currency in the Greco-Roman world. This subject, together with 
that of local contacts between Zoroastrians and Jews, will be 
entered into more fully in the last chapter of the present volume. 318 

317 See with particular reference to Anatolia J. B. McMinn, "Fusion of the gods; 
a religio- astrological study of the interpenetration of the East and the West in Asia 
Minor", JNES XV, 1956, 201-13; and d., notably, the syncretisms of Greco- 
Iranian gods in Commagene, below, p. '£22 ff. 

3,e Below, p. 389 ff. 






Under the Achaemenians even less had been known of central 
and eastern than of western Asia Minor, with its close proximity to 
Greece; and this remains largely true also for the Hellenistic period. 
Written records, apart from Strabo's Geography, are few, there has 
been relatively little excavation, and coin issues and surface finds 
belong mostly to Roman imperial times. It is to be expected, 
however, that Zoroastrianism should survive even more strongly 
here than in the western regions, partly because these areas were 
closer to Iran, and had been very considerably settled by Iranians, 
partly because here, and especially in a landlocked territory such as 
central Cappadocia, the influences of Hellenism were naturally 
slower to make themselves felt. 

Local evidence for the truth of this receives support from a 
passage in the inscription on the Ka c ba-yi Zardust by the Zoroas- 
trian high priest Kirder in the late third century A.G, There Kirder 
is speaking of incidents in the wars which the Sasanian Shabuhr I 
(240-271) waged against Rome in the latter part of his reign. In 
these wars the Persian king was seeking, not to conquer and hold 
new territory, but to inflict as much damage as he could on the 
enemy, by plundering and ravaging cities and the countryside 
throughout what were by then the most easterly Roman provinces. ' 
In the course of these punitive campaigns he acquired much booty 
and took many captives; and among the peoples whom his armies 
harried, as Kirder records, were Zoroastrians, Iranians doubtless 
by descent, who by then— some 600 years after Alexander's 
conquest — appeared probably very much as foreigners to the Per- 
sian troops. Nevertheless, they managed evidently to make their 
identity known, and even those who were swept off" as prisoners 
were in the end released and sent back to their own communities, 

Shabuhrs trilingual inscription on the Ka*ba-yi Zardust, M. Back, Die 
sassanidischen Staatsinschriften, 294 ff. 



as Kirder records: "There were fires and priests in the non-Iranian 
lands which were reached by the armies of the King of kings. The 
provincial capital Antioch and the province of Syria, and the 
districts dependent on Syria; the provincial capital Tarsus and the 
province of Gilicia, and the districts dependent on Cilicia; the 
provincial capital Caesarea and the province of Cappadocia, and 
the districts dependent on Cappadocia, up to Colchis, and the 
province of Armenia . . . —these were plundered and burnt and 
laid waste by Shabuhr, King of kings, with his armies. There too at 
the command of the King of kings, I set in order the priests and 
fires which were in those lands. And I did not allow harm to be 
done them, or captives made. And whoever had thus been made 
captive, him indeed I took and sent back to his own land." 2 

Kirder goes on to say: "And I made the Mazda-worshipping 
religion and its good priests honoured in the land. And heretics and 
harmful men^ who being in the priesthood did not in their exposi- 
tions further the Mazda-worshipping religion and the service of the 
yazads, them I punished and rebuked until through me they were 
amended". Scholars have tended to take these words as part of the 
high priest's statement about the Zoroastrians of the Roman pro- 
vinces; but this is hardly possible, since Shabuhr's armies — and 
hence Kirder himself, attendant presumably on the king — made no 
long stay among them, and there would thus have been no time for 
chastisement followed by gradual amendment. With these words, 
therefore, Kirder was evidently turning back to what was for him 
the land, i.e. Iran itself, where, he goes on to say, he founded many 
sacred fires and furthered other religious institutions. All that he 
found necessary to say, accordingly, of his relations with the 
"priests and fires" of the eastern Roman provinces is that he ''set 
them in order" — a mild enough statement by this formidable 
authoritarian. More significantly, it appears from his words that he 
found co-religionists widely scattered through these territories, main- 
taining their sacred fires, and that, recognizing them as faithful 
co-religionists, he duly gave them practical help at a time of need. 

2 Kirder, KZ, 1. 8 (Back, ib., pp. 422-9): 'Pm pwnc 'nyl'n stry 'twry W 
mgwGBR' MH pwn stry ZY 'nyl'n YHWWN 'YK SWSY 1 W GBR' ZY MLK'N 
MLK.' YHMTWN 'ndywky strdstn W swly'y stry W MH QDM swiy'y nsngy 
tylssyt strdstn W klky'y stry W MH QDM klky'y nsngy kysly'y strdstn W 
kpwtky'y Stry W MH QDM kpwtky'y nsngy 'D pl'c 'L gl'dkyd'y stry W 'Imny 
stry . . . shpwhry MLK'n MLK' pwn SWSY' W GBR' ZY NPSH wltkv W 
'twlswhtv W 'wdyl'n klty TMHcm pwn plm'n ZY MLK'N MLK' ZK mgwGBR' 
W 'twry'MH 'LH stry YHWWN ZKm wn'lsny klty. 'Pm L' SBKWN zdy'ny W 
wltky kltny. W MH KN Y$ wltkv klty YHWWN ZKcm BR' YNSBWN 'Pm 





: ;'i 

Earlier a Syrian, the learned Bardesanes (c. 154— 224), had made 
a brief, incidental allusion to expatriate Zoroastrians. Seeking to 
confound belief in the local influences of stars, he wrote: "Among 
the Persians it was customary for men to marry their daughters, 
sisters and mothers. It was not only in that [i.e. their own] country 
and in that region that the Persians formed these unholy unions; 
even those who lived out of Persia, who are called Magousaioi, 
practise the same abomination and pass on the same customs and 
habits to their children. Their descendants are numerous to the 
present day in Media, Egypt, Phrygia, and Galatia". 3 The term 
which he used for these Zoroastrians is one that had come, it seems, 
to be the standard word among Greek speakers in eastern Mediter- 
ranean lands for Zoroastrian priests, and then (like majus later 
among Arabic speakers) for Zoroastrians generally — as, appar- 
ently, in Bardesanes' own usage. Formally it derives, it is agreed, 
from the plural in -aya of Aramaic magma, which rendered Old 
Persian magus. By the second century A.C. this plural ending had 
evolved generally into e (hence the parallel Syriac maguse), but 
magousaioi is modelled after Ioudaioi, which is itself formed on 
analogy with Athenaioi.* 

The Zoroastrian custom of kkvaetvadatka, or close next-of-kin 
marriage, was one which was widely commented on, so that 
reference to it does not suffice to establish direct knowledge by 
Bardesanes of the community. He was, however, a well-informed 
man with wide contacts among eastern Christians, whose interest 
in the adherents of the ancient Persian religion was, if sporadic, 
evidently then still lively; so that, whether gained at first or second 
hand, his knowledge with regard to them seems likely to have been 
sound. His naming of lands where the magousaioi were still numer- 
ous seems at first sight erratic; but he himself spent a number of 
years in Armenia, and so may well have meant by "Media" Media 
Atropatene, Armenia's eastern neighbour. This he probably named 
as the most northerly land known to him where Zoroastrians 
flourished, giving then Egypt as the most southerly, and Phrygia 
and Galatia as far to the west, thus emphasizing his point that 
latitude and longtitude had no effect on customs. 

Kirder and Bardesanes thus jointly bear testimony to the flour- 

3 Quoted by Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, VI. 10.16; see Cumont, 
TMMM, I 10 n. 1; Clemen, Fontes, 69; Fox-Pemberton, Passages, 74. 

4 Cumont, ib., I 9 n. 5; BCM I 35 n. 3; S. Telegdi, "Essai sur la phonetique des 
emprunts iraniens en arameen talmudique", JA 1935, 229. I am indebted to 
Professor Duchesne-Guillemin for drawing my attention to the subsequent 
analysis of the word's final element as a double plural, with the relevant parallels. 

ishing into Roman imperial times of communities of Zoroastrians 
in central and eastern Asia Minor; and a further piece of evidence 
for this is provided subsequently by a letter sent with an embassy 
from the Sasanian Peroz in 464 to the Byzantine emperor, in which 
the Persian king protested at the harsh treatment of his co- 
religionists who were the latter's subjects, with the extinguishing of 
their sacred fires. 3 Almost exactly a century later, in 562, his 
grandson Khosrow Anoshiravan entered into a treaty with Justi- 
nian, to which was added a convention governing their treatment of 
the Christians and "Persians" in their respective realms ("Persian" 
being a synonym for "Zoroastrian"). On his side the Byzantine 
emperor agreed to treat well Khosrow's compatriots (as they were 
still recognized to be), and to build fire-temples for them. 6 It seems 
likely that what was envisaged by the latter stipulation was the 
rebuilding of fire-temples which had been destroyed in earlier 
persecutions; but there is no evidence as to how far the terms of the 
convention were observed. 

The likelihood appears that both Peroz and Khosrow were 
seeking to protect their co-religionists in central and eastern rather 
than in western Asia Minor, where (the cessation of evidence 
suggests) public adherence to the Iranian faith was probably 
ended, forcibly or by persuasion, by the mid third century. The 
countries which made up these central and eastern regions differed 
considerably from one another — geographically, politically and 
culturally; and conditions for their Zoroastrian citizens varied 
accordingly. It is necessary therefore to consider them individually 
in seeking to trace religious developments there. 

Phrygia and Galatia 

The boundaries of Phrygia varied greatly at different epochs; but 
roughly speaking the ancient kingdom consisted of the western part 
of the great central plateau, with the river Halys separating it from 
Cappadocia. 7 In the seventh century B.C. it was overrun by 
Cimmerians, and thereafter was subjugated by the Lydians and 
Persians successively. Its centre was in the upper valley of the 

5 Cumont, TMMM. I 10 n. 5; J. Labourt, Le christian! sme dans 1' empire perse. 
2nd ed., Paris 190*, 130 n. 

6 Tabari, tr. T. Nbldeke, 2B8. (For counter-stipulations concerning the Christ- 
ians in Iran see in detail L. H. Gray, "Formal peace-negotiations and peace- 
treaties between pre-Muhammadan Persia and other states", J. J- Modi Mem. 
Vol., Bombay 1930, 151.). 

7 See Ramsay, "Phrygia", Enc. Brit., 13th ed., 1926, 21, 541-5; Magie, RR, 
38-9, 42, 50. 






Sangarius, whose main affluent, the Tembris, joined it by the 
ancient city of Gordium. Most of Phrygia was admirably suited to 
Iranian settlement; its river valleys were fertile and the great 
upLand plains provided good pasture for flocks and herds. More- 
over, since it was traversed by the Royal Road, it had a ready link 
with Iran. The Iranians not being themselves an urban people, 
Phrygia under Achaemenian rule remained, despite settlement by 
them, a land of few towns. 

Alexander assigned Phrygia to Antigonus, and after the battle of 
Ipsus (fought on Phrygian soil) it passed to Lysimachus, and after 
Corupedion, in 281, to Seleucus. 8 Worse fate befell it in 277 with 
the coming of the Galatians, who must have ravaged most of the 
land. 9 Some ten years later the two kings who had used these Gauls 
as mercenaries — Nicomedes I of Bithynia and Mithradates I of 
Pontus — seem to have settled them, more or less, on lands adjacent 
to their own realms (till then probably, nominally at least, Seleucid 
possessions), where they could shield them from Seleucid power. 10 
These lands, which came to be known as Galatia, were carved out 
from eastern Phrygia with a small area of western Cappadocia, that 
is, a region around the upper Sangarius and middle Halys. From 
here the Gauls had easy access across what remained of Phrygia to 
the rich lands of western Asia Minor, which they continued to 
plunder or hold to ransom down to 190 B.C., when they fought for 
Antiochus III at Magnesia. They incurred thereby Rome's hostil- 
ity, and the next year a Roman army invaded their land and 
defeated them in two gTeat battles. Thereafter they were confined 
within Galatia, and wrought no more havoc. 

Till then the Galatians had lived as a warrior elite in fortified 
villages and castles, where their chiefs kept up a barbaric state. 
They allowed the ancient towns that had come under their rule to 
survive, and down to 189 these seem even to have prospered, the 
wealth which the Galatians brought back from their forays being 
partly spent, presumably, in their market places. Among them was 
Tavium to the east of the Halys, which possessed a famous sanctu- 
ary to "Zeus"; and Pessinus, on former Phrygian soil, celebrated 
for its shrine to the Phrygian "Mother of the gods". The high 
priests of Pessinus were allowed to continue as separate dynasts, 

8 Cf. above, pp. 24, 25. 

9 Cf above, pp. 25-6. 

10 Jones, Cities, pp. 110-1, argues convincingly that the part in this settlement 
attributed by Strabo to the Attalids is unlikely, since Pergamum was then only a 
small principality on the western coast. On Galatia generally see ib., pp. 110-22; 
J. G. C. Anderson, "Galatia", Enc. Brit., 13th ed., 11, 393-4. 

and had friendly relations with the Attalids and even received 
donations from them for their temple; 11 and when in 205 the 
Romans, prompted by "the oracles of the Sibyl", sought to acquire 
the cult statue of their goddess, it was through Attalid diplomacy 
that they were able to obtain it, 12 In 189 the high priest prudently 
sent a deputation to the approaching Roman general to announce 
that the goddess had foretold his victory; and the temple continued 
thereafter to prosper. Letters survive exchanged between its high 
priests and the Attalids Eumenes II and Attalus II, in one of which 
the high priest's brother bears a Galatian name, suggesting inter- 
marriage between the high priestly family and the Gallic nobility. 13 
The relevance of all this to a history of Zoroastrianism is that it 
shows that even under the terrible Galatians some at least of their 
subjects could thrive and maintain their holy places, having con- 
tact also with others beyond Galatia's borders; and this makes it 
the less surprising that Bardesanes should have included Galatia as 
well as Phrygia among the lands where magousaioi were still numer- 
ous in the second century A.C. As so often, there are few tangible 
traces of the Iranian religion to support his words, in fact none from 
Galatia; but from Phrygia there is a little material evidence (in 
addition to that already considered from Celenae-Apamea and 
Themisonion in the far south-west 14 ). Thus an isolated inscription 
of great interest came to light near ancient Amorion (at Ghomme, 
i.e. modern Ergan Kale, near Asar Kale). Amorion was to the 
south of the Royal Road, but was linked to Apamea by what in 
Roman times became a paved highway. It stood at the head of a 
broad, well-watered plain, which presumably Iranians colonized in 
Achaemenian times; and in 131 B.C. it was brought just within the 
eastern boundary of the new Roman province of Asia. 15 At this 
village near it was found a large limestone stele, its lower part 
broken away, whose three inscribed faces bear related Greek texts, 
assigned to the first century A.C. 16 These record that "initiates of 
the tribe of Zeus" {phuies Dios mustai), wishing to honour the 
memory of Cyrilla, daughter of Antipater Gaios, who had died 

11 Strabo XII.5.3. 

12 lb.; on the Sibyl see below, p. 371 ff. 

13 Jones, o.c, pp.' 119, 408 n. 7. 
'* Cf. above, pp. 244-5, 249. 

'* Ramsay, Geography, 49, 171-2, 231, with map, p. 197. As Rome extended 
her eastern empire the boundaries of the Anatolian provinces were repeatedly 
redrawn, and this area came again within the fluctuating borders of Phrygia, and 
so can be considered under Bardesanes' territorial reference. 

16 Ramsay, "Inscriptions d'Asie Mineure", REG II, 1889, 17-37; Vermase- 
ren, CIMRM I, pp. 50-1. 




young, had dedicated an altar to her, and had bought a vineyard, a 
plethron and a half in size, the income from which was to endow a 
feast to be held "yearly on the customary Mithrakana days" (kata 
etas ethimois hemerais tois Mithrakanois) . All initiates were to take part 
in that feast thenceforth, they, their descendants and their heirs for 
ever. Thereafter, to increase the endowment, Antipater gave them 
a vineyard of four plethm. whereupon they raised a marble statue to 
Cyrilla; and in gratitude he concluded his liberality by making over 
to them the whole of his vineyard. 

This inscription has echoes of the more public honour shown to 
Theophron of Hypaipa, who also died young at this same epoch; 17 
and it suggests the blend of cultures and usages which one might 
reasonably expect at such a place and time. Those concerned were 
presumably observing a Zoroastrian festival, for there is no record 
of Mithrakana outside that religion; but they were hellenized, 
speaking Greek, citizens probably of Amorion, which appears, like 
other Hellenistic cities, to have been divided into "tribes". That of 
"Zeus" may conceivably have been made up of families of Iranian 
descent; but even were there more evidence, such a fact might well 
be masked by a wholesale adoption of Greco-Roman names. 

The inscription contains one of the oldest references to the 
Mithrakana, the other being by Strabo, who knew it as a Persian 
feast. 18 With the creation of the Zoroastrian calendar, probably 
early in the fourth century B.C., its chief holy day was fixed on the 
day Mithra of the month Mithra; but for how many days this major 
festival was customarily observed before the Sasanian period is 
unknown. iy To remember the souls of the departed at annual feasts 
endowed in their names is established Zoroastrian usage; and some 
two centuries earlier Antiochus I of Commagene likewise recorded 
endowing such commemorative feasts with lands, on a princely 
scale. 20 The observance is well known still in the Zoroastrian 
community, especially in its traditional centres in Iran; but there 
such a foundation would regularly be made during the "customary 
days" of one of the six gahambarsP Establishing one during those of 

17 Above, pp. 223-4. 

18 XI. 14.9, His statement that the Armenian satrap sent the Achaemenian king 
20,000 foals each year for this feast bears out the supposition that the Persians 
then, as later, celebrated Mithrakana as an autumn festival, since it would be 
normal husbandry to have foals born in spring and reared through the summer 
with the mares. 

19 The remarks in HZ II 34 on Mithrakana are to be corrected both in this 
respect and concerning the attestation of the old form of the name. 

* Cf below, pp. 337, 342. 

21 Cf Boyce, Stronghold, 33 if. 



Mithrakana is perhaps yet another piece of evidence for the popu- 
larity of Mithra among the Zoroastrians of Asia Minor. 

Naturally the more richly endowed a feast, the greater its pre- 
stige and the more the cheerfulness engendered at it, which is held 
to be a source of satisfaction to the departed soul. A large endow- 
ment also increases the likelihood of the observance being long 
maintained. Antipater's acts are thus fully in the spirit of known 
Zoroastrian usages. To celebrate feasts in honour of the dead was 
also, however, Greek custom, so that here the Iranian and Hellenis- 
tic worlds met harmoniously, with the Zoroastrians enriching their 
traditional observance by adopting the Greek practice of erecting a 
statue to the departed. 

The Amorion stele thus bears witness to the existence of a group 
of Zoroastrians, evidently prosperous, peacefully maintaining their 
ancestral customs in the interior of a Fhrygia that had become 
strongly hellenized during several generations of Roman rule. 
There is nothing to indicate the presence among them of magi; but 
their attendance may reasonably be supposed, for a religious 
ceremony would undoubtedly have preceded the feast as part of the 
endowed observances. 

Another piece of evidence for the persistence of Zoroastrian 
worship in Phrygia comes from near Nacoleia (modern Seyid- 
gazi), a town in hilly country south of the river Tembris in Phrygia 
Epicteteis. 22 Here a broken inscription has been found, also from 
Roman imperial times, invoking "Zeus of the Persians", that is, 
Ahura Mazda. 23 Its discovery strengthens the possibility that the 
Zeus of the Amorion city "tribe" owed some element at least of his 
concept to the Zoroastrian God. 

To the west of Nacoleia at modern Savcrtar, a village in Mysia on 
the shore of Lake Svnaos (modern Sinav), near the border with 
Phrygia, a stone pedestal was found with a carving of the bust of 
Mithra wearing the "Phrygian" cap, and around it a damaged 
Greek inscription to the "Sun Mithra" (Helios Mithras). 2 " This, 
dated most probably to 77/78 A.C., is generally regarded as being 
devoted to the god of the Mithraic Mysteries rather than to the 
Zoroastrian yazata, and would then be among his oldest monu- 
ments; but since at this epoch the Persians themselves called the 
sun Mithra 25 , this identification is by no means certain. 

22 Ramsay, Geography, 49, 168; Jones, Cities, 65, 67. 

23 T et L Robert, "Bull.ep.", REG 1979, 529; Fouilles d'Amyzon 1 16, n. 148. 

24 Gumont, "MUhra en Asie Mineure", in Festschrift W. H. Buckler, 69-70; 
Vermaseren, CIMRM, I 51 no. 23. 

" Cf. below, pp. 478-82, and Wiltander, EMM, 27, 







A little more is known of the practice and persistence of Zoroas- 
trianism in Cappadocia (Katpatuka to the Achaemenians). which 
comprised a great stretch of territory- from the Taurus mountains 
north to the Black Sea (Pontus Euxinus), and from the wide curve 
of the middle Halys (separating it from Phrygia) east to Lesser 
Armenia and Commagene. Most of this knowledge comes from 
Strabo, who was born about 63 B.C. in Cappadocia-on-the- Pontus, 
generally abbreviated to Pontus, that is, the northern part of the 
region. The information contained in his Geography is supplemented 
by some details from the life of Mithradates the Great of Pontus 
(c. 121-63 B.C.), whose wars against Rome attracted general 
interest; by a brief but important passage in a letter by Bishop 
Basil, metropolitan of Cappadocia in the fourth century A.C.; and 
by a little numismatic and monumental evidence. 

The greater part of Cappadocia was high tableland, and its 
plains, like those of Phrygia, provided good grazing; but in the 
interior there were few rivers of any size except the great Halys 
(modern Kizil Irmak) 26 , and so no large fertile areas and few 
towns. The population, of Hittite stock, was deeply conservative, 
maintaining ancient traditions over many generations. 27 The 
Medes had made themselves masters of the land by 585 B.C., but 
Iranian settlement there is thought to have begun probably under 
the Achaemenians. The area most attractive to the Persians ap- 
pears to have been the fertile upper valleys of the Iris and Lycos in 
inland Pontus. Here they had their satrapal capital at Gaziura, 
"Place of the Treasury", in the Iris valley.^ 8 The Royal Road and 
Southern Highway provided ready access, however, to the whole 
country. Persian nobles presumably dwelt in the many hill fortres- 
ses mentioned there by Strabo, 29 and humbler Iranian settlers in 
villages scattered among those of the native population, where 
Bishop Basil found their descendants still living in the fourth 

2S Reinach, Mith. Eupator, 8, characterizes the Halys as useless except as a 
frontier, with waters too saline for fish to live in. See otherwise K. Devedjian, 
Peche et pecheries en Turquie, Constantinople 1915, 2nd ed. 1926, appendice, 
tableau E (a reference I owe to the kindness of M. Chuvin). In general on the 
geography of Cappadocia see Reinach, o.c, p. 8 IF.; Gumont, CAH XI, 605-7. 

27 This has been strikingly attested by excavations at Hanis-Anisa (modern 
Kiiltepe), by origin a small Hittite town, 19 km. from Kayseri; see with bibli- 
ography Robert, Noms indigenes, 457-523, 583, 

On the name see Russell, Zoroastrianism in Armenia, p. 35 nn. 23 and 24, 
pp. 73~A; and cf. Ganzaka in Atropatene. 

29 XII.2.9. 

century A.C. Strabo in his own day recognized only two cities in 
Cappadocia, both ancient: Tyana in the south-west, and Mazaka, 
later to be renamed Caesarea (modern Kayseri). This stood at 
important crossroads at the heart of Cappadocia, dominating the 
plain at the foot of Mount Argaeus, Anatolia's highest peak. 30 

The Pontic coast was cut off from inland Cappadocia by moun- 
tain ranges stretching westward from the Caucasus; for the rivers 
which forced their way north through this barrier were navigable 
for only a little way up their courses. Their deltas made fertile areas 
along the narrow coastal strip, and also created harbours; and from 
the eighth century B.C. the region had attracted Greek settlers. 
The oldest of their colonies was at Sinope in Paphlagonia (Pontic 
Cappadocia's western neighbour), which had probably already 
been an important trading port in Hittite times; 31 and the Greeks 
throve there, sending out other colonies to places along the coast, 
the most easterly being Trapezus (Trebizond, modern Trabzun). 
These Greek cities traded by sea rather than with inland 
Cappadocia. 32 

Cappadocia had several famous holy places, notably the temple 
to the goddess Ma at Comana (modem §ar, near Tufan-beyli) in 
the south-east, of which Strabo wrote: "It is a considerable city; its 
inhabitants, however, consist mostly of the divinely inspired people 
and the temple-servants who live in it . . . who . . . are in most 
respects subject to the priest. . . . Also, considerable territory be- 
longs to the temple, and the revenue is enjoyed by the priest. He is 
second in rank in Cappadocia after the king; and in general the 
priests belonged to the same family as the kings". 33 The goddess 
Ma had another wealthy sanctuary in the north, at Pontic Comana 
(Gumenek) . This, modelled on the southern one," was in the valley 
of the Iris; and to the west of it was Zela (modern Zile), which 
according to traditions preserved by Strabo appears to have been 
the oldest Persian sanctuary in Asia Minor. The town stands in a 
small hill -en circled plain, not far from ancient Gaziura; and from 
whatever side it is approached, the eye is caught by a low, rounded 
hill which rises within it, on its eastern side. 3:> This is a natural 
feature, as outcrops of living rock show, but possibly it was once 

30 On Mazaka see Strabo, XII.2.7,9. 

31 Ramsay, Geography, 28, 35. 
12 Robert, o.c, pp. 538-9. 

33 XII.2.3. 
M Strabo, XII.3.32. 

"See, with photographs, J. G.C. Anderson, Ajourney of exploration in Pontus, 
1903, 42; Gumont, Voyage d'exploration, 188 ff. 



artificially banked up to give it its existing oval form 36 ; for Strabo 
relates how in the sixth century B.C. nomad Sacae "advanced as 
far as the country of the Cappadocians, particularly those situated 
close to the Euxine, who are now called the Pontici. But when they 
were holding a general festival and enjoying their booty, they were 
attacked by the Persian generals [of Cyrus the Great] who were 
then in that region and utterly wiped out. And these generals, 
heaping up a mound of earth over a certain rock in the plain, 
completed it in the form of a hill, and created on it a wall, and 
established the temple of Anaitis and the gods who share her 
altar — Omanus and Anadatus, Persian deities; and they instituted 
an annual sacred festival, the Sacaea, which the inhabitants of Zela 
(for thus the place is called) continue to celebrate to the present 
day". 37 According to another tradition, Strabo adds, it was Cyrus 
himself who, after an initial defeat, succeeded in slaughtering the 
Sacae, and, "regarding the happy issue as of divine origin, conse- 
crated that day to the goddess of his fathers and called it Sacaea". 38 
The implication that Anaitis had been worshipped by the Persians 
before Cyrus' day accords with Herodotus' statement that they had 
early learnt "to sacrifice to the 'Heavenly Goddess', from the 
Assyrians and Arabians"; 39 and dedicating an annual commemora- 
tive feast to this divinity, with her warlike aspect, would seem 
fitting here. General considerations make it likely, however, that for 
several generations the sanctuary at Zela remained an open-air 
one, ringed by its wall. The setting is in accord with the Iranian 
tradition of worship in high places 40 ; and probably veneration was 
offered there, also in traditional fashion, to Ahura Mazda and all 
the yazatas. The building of a temple dedicated specifically to 
Anahit probably took place later, in the time of Artaxerxes II; and 
the altars to "Omanus" (generally interpreted as Vohu Manah) 
and the perplexing "Anadatus" presumably belonged likewise to 
the temple-phase of worship on the hill. 41 No traces of an Achaeme- 
nian building survive; but in general ancient remains at Zela are few. 
Only one Zoroastrian artifact has been found so far in Cappado- 


So Cumont, I.e., p. 191. 

XI.8.4. On the hill at Zela see also Julius Caesar, The Alexandrian Wars, Ch. 

38 XI.8.5. On the Sacaea see further below, pp. 289-92. 

59 1.131, cf. HZ II 29-30. 

40 This, as we have seen (above, p. 75) is a relative concept. The hill at Zela rises 
only about 15 m. above the plain, giving thus easy access to priests and worship- 
pers; and it both dominates the surrounding countryside and, like Lydian Hierolo- 
phos, gives distant views of higher hiEs all around. 

+1 On the popularity in Asia Minor of Omanus/Vohu Manah see below, p. 270. 



cia which perhaps belongs to Achaemenian times. This is a little 
fiat-topped limestone altar, 0.55 m. high and 0.37 m. across at its 
widest. 42 It has a two-stepped top and base, the steps projecting 
only slightly above and below the rectangular shaft, each of whose 
sides bears a virtually identical carving in shallow relief. This is of a 
man in "Median" dress, i.e. tiara (worn so as to leave the face free), 
long mantle or kandys, with sleeves hanging empty, trousers and 
boots. In his right hand he holds a short baresman by the twig-ends, 43 
while his left, raised up, supports a shallow bowl on spread fingers, as 
if he were dedicating an offering. Since he is so clad, and is thus 
represented in an act of worship, he has been identified as a magus, 
but could as well represent a devout layman. 44 The altar itself has 
been described as a "fire-altar", but since it is small and flat-topped, 
this is not possible. What seems likely is that it is a rarer object, 
namely a Zoroastrian altar proper, on whose flat surface offerings 
were placed in worship of the yazatas. Zoroastrians do not make burnt 
offerings, but devote to the divine beings a variety of things whose 
aroma may be held to please them, such as freshly cooked food,, raw 
fruits sliced open, aromatic herbs or libations of wine. 45 Where the 
little altar would have stood for such devotional purposes can only be 
guessed at; but its careful carving suggests perhaps the courtyard or 
walled garden of some nobleman's house. 46 It cannot be precisely 
dated; but since the reliefs show no trace of Greek influence, the latest 
time, it is thought, would be mid second century B.C.; for the altar 
was found at or near Bunyan, a village some 35 km. to the east of 
Mazaka, which then, as the capital of Cappadocia, was the centre for 
a roval policy of deliberate hellenization. 47 It could, however, be 
older, belonging, that is, to early Seleucid or Achaemenian times. 46 

42 K. Bittel, "Ein persischer Feueraltar aus Kappadokien", Satura, Festschrift 
O. Weinreich, Baden-Baden, 1952, 15-29, with plate; Turkish version in Turk 
Arkeologi Dergisi VI, 1956, 35-42 with PI. 15. (I am indebted to Professor P. 
Calmeyer for providing me with photocopies of both texts.) One face of the altar is 
illustrated by A. Akurgal, Die Kunst Anatoliens, PI- 120, two by H. von Gall, 
BaM 19, 1988, Taf. 34. On it, inadequately, HZ II 147. 

+3 On the short baresman see HZ II 39, 276. 

44 Cf. above, pp. 99-100, and the representations of Achaemenian kings at 
Nimxud Dagh, below, p. 331. 

+s Cf. Boyce, Stronghold, index s.v. boy-o-brang; and the general Zoroastrian 
phrase boy dddan "to give fragrance", used of offerings. 

"* P. Cook, The Persian Empire, 180, sought to find in the altar evidence for the 
existence at Bunyan of the "paradise" of a Persian nobleman whose castle would 
have been in the mountains nearby, guarding the road from Commagene to 
Mazaka; but he did not perhaps appreciate how small the altar is. Nor is it certain 
that it was found at Bunyan itself, see Bittel, art. cit., p. 16. 

47 Bittel, ib., pp. 22-3, and cf. below, p. 268. 

48 So Bittel, ib., p. 28- 





Most of Cappadocia was ignored by Alexander, who pressed on 
across the south of the country in 333 without attempting to subdue 
the remainder. Rule there was exercised for the next decade by a 
Persian, Ariarathes, the former Achaemenian satrap of Pontic 
Cappadocia. As such he had struck coins at Gaziura, with legends 
in Aramaic lettering. One of his issues has on the reverse a griffin 
attacking a kneeling stag, and his name, 'rywrt. On the obverse is a 
seated figure, bearded and with a wreath on his head. In his left 
hand he holds a long sceptre, and in his right (on which an eagle is 
perehed) ears of corn and a vine-branch with grapes. By this figure 
is the legend Ba'al Gazir (bHg^yr) "Lord of Gaziura". 49 This 
Zeus-like figure resembles one on coins minted at Tarsus for 
Mazaios (satrap of Cilicia under Artaxerxes III and Darius III), 
which is accompanied by the legend Ba'al Tarz (b H trz) "Lord of 
Tarsus' 1 . 50 There is no other evidence to help identify the divinity 
at the Cappadocian stronghold, but, as we have seen, 51 the icono- 
graphy of Zeus was sometimes used in Bactria to portray Mithra, 
while the equation of Zeus and Ahura Mazda is regular. Other 
satrapal coins of Ariarathes resemble Greek types of Sinope, but 
also have his name in Aramaic lettering. 52 

In 323, at the division of satrapies after Alexander's death, 
Cappadocia was allotted to Eumenes, who with the aid of Perdiccas 
succeeded in gaining possession or it. The defeated Ariarathes was 
crucified together with most of his family. A few years later Antigo- 
nus, having put Eumenes to death, 53 acquired Cappadocia, and 
thereafter it, like Phrygia, passed first to Lysimachus and then to 
Seleucus. By then Mithradates I had carved out the new kingdom 
of Pontus {which included a part of Paphlagonia), and this he held. 
South or Greater Cappadocia was more important strategically to 
the Seleucids, and they succeeded in controlling it briefly; but 
towards the end of Antiochus I's reign (or early in that of his 
successor) a descendant of Ariarathes, called Ariaramnes, recon- 
quered it with help from Armenia; and he was followed by his son, 
another Ariarathes. They succeeded in establishing a dynasty, of 
which the Ariarathes who was put to death by Perdiccas is re- 

49 Wrolh. 

BMC Galatia, p. 29 no. 1, PI. VI. I; Alram, Nomina, p. Ill, Taf. 

Cf. HZ II 272-3, and further Boyce, BAI 4, 1990 (in press). On the Ba'al of 
Tarsus being the ancient Hiuile god Sandan, semitized as Nergal. see P. Chuvin, 
"Apollon au trident et les dieux de Tarse", JdS 1981, 305-26. 

51 Above, p. 163 ff. 

™ Wroth, BMC Pontus, p. 96 nos 9, 10, PI. XXII.I, 2; Alram, ox., p. 1 12, Taf. 

53 Cf. above, p. 20. 

garded as the founder, Ariarathes I. Subsequently court 
historians — or perhaps court minstrels? — created a partly false 
genealogy for the family, to substantiate a claim that its ancestors 
had already been kings of Cappadocia at the time of the Achaeme- 
nians, with whom (it was said) they had intermarried. In this 
genealogy there is a second Ariarathes, Ariaramnes' father, Ariar- 
amnes' son being therefore known as Ariarathes III. 54 

Ariaramnes issued coins, bearing on the obverse his head wear- 
ing a Persian satrapal tiara, and on the reverse a horseman at the 
gallop, holding a lance, or a horse grazing or trotting, with Ariar- 
amnes' name, without title, in Greek letters. 55 A number of coins of 
the last type also bear a mint-name, Tyana, showing that he had 
extended his control to that south Cappadocian city. Ariarathes III 
in his issues continued his father's types, with further mint-names 
appearing, 56 and his own, still without title. On the obverse of one 
of his coins a goddess is shown between two sphinxes. She has been 
tentatively identified as Ishtar/Astarte — conceivably in the local 
Achaemenian iconography a representative of Anahit, 57 whose 
worship by Persians in Cappadocia is well attested. 

The coins of Ariaramnes and Ariarathes III, with their mint- 
names and Greek lettering, have been taken to indicate a scattering 
of Greeks in the towns of south Cappadocia. 58 In general down to 
this lime Cappadocia had been little affected by Hellenism; but 
now, with a measure of peace and stability returning under the 
Ariarathids, cultural Hellenism began to spread there also, largely, 
it seems, on the initiative of those kings. What must have inclined 
Ariarathes III more readily to this was the diplomatic friendliness 
of the Seleucid Antiochus II, who recognized him as king, ceded to 
him the southern province of Cataonia (in which Cumana stood), 
and gave him his daughter Stratonice in marriage. 59 The Cappado- 
cian king followed Seleucid example by founding a new city, which 
he named Ariaratheia, and to which doubtless he gave a Greek 
constitution. His son Ariarathes IV (220-C.162), thus half- 

5 * Reinach, Trois royaumes, 10— 1 1 . In general on Cappadocia in Greco-Roman 
Limes see Cumont, CAH XI, 606-13; Jones, Cities, 174-90. 

ss Alram : o.c, p. 58, Taf. 5.127-31. On the early coins of the Ariarathids see K. 
Regling, "Dynastenmiinzen von Tyana, Morima und Anisa in Kappadokien", 
Zeitschrift fur Numismatik 42, 1935, 1-23, Taf. 1; on the coins of the Ariarathids 
generally see principally the works of O. MBrkolm and A. Slmonetta, listed by 
Alram, o.c, pp. 20, 22. 

56 See Alram, o.c, pp. 58-60, Taf. 5.132-7. 

57 Cf. above, p. 227 with n. 158. 
SB Robert, Noms indigenes, 465. 
S9 Above, p. 27. 





Macedonian by blood, set the title "king" on his coins, and 
attached to his name the cognomen Philopator. He also introduced 
the device of Athene holding Nike, which became the standard 
reverse type of the Ariarathid coinage. His bust shows him some- 
times wearing the Persian tiara bound with the Greek diadem, but 
sometimes the diadem tied round his bare head. 60 

His son Ariarathes V (c. 162-130), with the cognomen Eusebes, 
was an ardent philhellene, and no longer wears the tiara on any of 
his coins. 61 In his youth he studied in Athens, where he became 
friends with the future Attalus III, the last king of Pergamum. He 
in his turn married a Seleucid princess, his cousin Nysa, daughter 
of Antiochus III; and he refounded Mazaka and Tyana as Greek 
poleis, renaming both Eusebia (distinguished as Eusebia-under- 
Argaeus and Eusebia-by-the-Taurus). Neither city seems likely to 
have received any marked influx of Greeks (in the following reign a 
gymnasiarch of Tyana is known who bore a wholly unGreek name, 
Atezoas son of Dryenus); 62 and later the organization of Cappado- 
cia as a Roman province suggests that the kingdom was generally 
little affected by even such modest developments, keeping to its old 
tribal and village economy. Greek was probably the language 
chiefly spoken by now at court; but a bilingual inscription attri- 
buted to the first century A.C. 61 shows that written Aramaic — and 
hence probably spoken Persian — persisted in use beside it, at least 
among the rural nobility. Their affairs were presumably dealt with 
by scribes of Iranian descent, who kept tenaciously to the traditions 
of their hereditary calling. 

Ariarathes was driven briefly from his throne by a usurper with 
an Iranian name, Orophernes; 64 but, having recovered the king- 
ship, he died fighting for the Roman cause against Aristonicus in 
Pergamum. His widow Nysa is said to have murdered five of their 
sons thereafter in order to continue herself as regent. 65 A sixth 
escaped, to reign eventually as Ariarathes VI Epiphanes Philopa- 
tor (c. 120-111)- He rashly married Laodice, daughter of Mithra- 
dates the Great of Pontus, a princess who like himself was of mixed 
Iranian and Macedonian blood; and Cappadocia thus came under 

60 See Wroth, BMC Galatia, pp. 31-2, PI. VI.2; Alram, o.c, pp. 60-1. Taf. 

61 Wroth, o.c, p. 33, PI. VI.3, 4; Alram, o.c, p. 62, Taf. 5.151-2. 

62 Jones, Cities, 178 with 430 n. 7. 

63 See below, p. 272. 

6 * For his coins, on which he has the cognomen nieephorus, sec Wroth, o.c, p. 34, 
PI. VI.3; Alram, o.c, p. 62, Taf. 5.153. He too is shown bare-headed but for the 

55 On her see Reinach, Trois royaumes, 46; Mith. Eupator, 81. 

the influence of her powerful and ambitious father. In II I Mithra- 
dates strengthened his hold on it by procuring his son-in-law's 
murder, Laodice being left to rule as regent for their son, Aria- 
rathes VII Philometor; but when the latter began to show signs of 
independence, Mithradates had him killed also, c.100, installing in 
his place a young son of his own, as Ariarathes Eusebes Philopator. 
Philometor's younger brother was killed in about 96 trying to 
recover the kingdom, and with him the Ariarathid line was extin- 

At this juncture Rome intervened, ordering Mithradates to 
withdraw and seeking to have Cappadocia remain a republic; but 
this was a concept wholly alien to its nobles, who asked instead for 
a king; and, the Senate agreeing, they elected one of their own 
number, with the Iranian name of Ariobarzanes. He had a troubled 
reign (c.95-62), during which most of Cappadocia was often occup- 
ied either by Mithradates or by Tigranes of Armenia; but his heirs 
continued to reign after a fashion under Roman protection until 36 
B.C., when Mark Antony put Archelaus, a great-grandson of one of 
Mithradates 5 generals, on the throne — perhaps Cappadocia's first 
king of wholly non-Iranian blood. He appears to have been an able 
and energetic ruler, who enjoyed a long reign before being deposed in 
1 7 A.C., when senile, by Tiberius, who annexed Cappadocia for Rome. 

Nothing is known of the personal beliefs of the Ariarathids, for 
the fact that from the reign of Ariarathes III they set images of 
Greek divinities on their coins is of no evidential value by itself; but 
since their support seems to have come largely from the Iranian 
nobles, it is likely that, for diplomatic if no other reasons, they 
continued to give their patronage to the Iranian religion, were 
initiated into it, and took their due part in Zoroastrian ceremonies 
and observances. That Zoroastrian ism flourished under their rule 
is attested by Strabo, whose famous account of it in Cappadocia 
was written some little time after the dynasty died out. 66 "In 
Cappadocia", he wrote, " — -for there the tribe of the magi (ton 
magon), who are also called fire-kindlers {pyraithoi) is large — . . . 
they . . . have fire-sanctuaries {pyraitkeia) , noteworthy enclosures; 
and in the midst of these there is an altar (iomoj) 67 , on which there 
is a large quantity of ashes and where the magi keep the fire ever 
burning. And there, entering daily, they make incantations for 
about an hour, holding before the fire their bundle of rods and 
wearing round their heads felt tiaras which reach down over their 


°' This is the earliest instance of a word for "altar" being used for a Zoroastrian 



cheeks far enough to cover their lips/' This account is essentially in 
harmony both with Pausanias' description of the fire-cult at Hy- 
paipa and Hierocaesarea, 68 and with living Zoroastrian usage. 
Strabo's is, however, more matter of fact than the Lydian's, its tone 
being that of one speaking of everyday observances rather than of 
strange marvels; and it is noteworthy that he makes no mention of 
the use of a book. This is what one would expect in conservative 
Cappadocia, and agrees with Bishop Basil's later remarks about 
the lack of religious books among the Zoroastrians in his diocese. 
In describing these fire-sanctuaries Strabo attests the existence of 
something for which there is no evidence in Lydia, namely separate 
shrines for fire and for the worship o[yazatas. In Cappadocia, he 
states, 69 "are also many temples of the Persian gods". He names 
only two of the yazalas concerned, Anaitis and Omanus, and says 
that in their temples the same rituals of the fire-cult were observed 
as in the fire-sanctuaries. This accords with the literary and numis- 
matic evidence for the maintenance of the fire-cult at Anahit's 
Lydian shrines. The Cappadocian temples, Strabo adds, have 
sacred enclosures; "and the people carry in procession a wooden 
statue of Omanus ... I have seen this myself". It is striking that 
the worship of Omanus/Vohu Manah should be prominent both in 
Greater Cappadocia and at Pontic Zela, while his popularity is 
attested by theophoric names in Lydia and Bactria; 70 and it is 
tempting to suppose that all this may not be unconnected with the 
great Amesa Spenta's link with prophecy (in which there was so 
much interest in the Hellenistic world) and with the circulation 
among Greek-speaking Iranians of the poems of the Persian Sibyl. 71 
As for the apparent absence of separate fire-temples in Lydia, this 
may be due to the chance survival of evidence; but it is also possible 
that the institution of such temples (established, it has been sug- 
gested, in orthodox reaction to the image cult 72 ) may not have been 
adopted by the Lydians, who, conceivably less traditionalist even 
in Achaemenian times, may have been content to maintain a 
temple cult of fire only in conjunction with the image cult of a 
yazata. ' 3 

68 Above, p. 236. 

69 L.c. 

70 See above, pp. 264, 249, 181. 

71 See p. 372 ff. 
"See HZ II 221-2. 

71 A great image shrine would from the first have found it ritually necessary to 
have had an ever-burning fire within the temple precinct, cf. above, pp. 179, 
235.— For further details given bv Strabo of magian worship in Asia Minor see 
below, p. 294 ff. 



Of the many Persian temples in Cappadocia of which Strabo 
wrote, only one has left a tiny tangible trace of its existence. This is 
in the shape of a small inscribed stone altar base found at Ortakoy, 
which has been identified as ancient Nitalis 74 . This was in Mor- 
imene, the north-west region of Cappadocia that lay, a narrow 
stretch of upland, between the bend of the Halys and Lake Tatta, 
being bounded on the north by Galatia. The stone in question (64 
cm. high by 54 cm. wide) bears a Greek inscription attributed to 
Roman imperial times, invoking "Thea Anaitis" to grant well- 
being to three named temple servants and their progeny. The 
goddess is hailed not only as "very great", but also, by an otherwise 
unrecorded epithet, as barzoxara-, which has been interpreted as an 
Iranian adjective meaning "of high Hara", that is, of the great 
mythical mountain from which the mythical world river, person- 
ified as Aredvi Sura Anahita, descends. 75 If this is correct, it is a 
striking instance (for which we have met parallels in Lydia) of the 
persistence of ancient Iranian religious concepts — or at least of 
cult-usages. It is also remarkable that the tiny number of Zoroast- 
rian inscriptions which has survived from Asia Minor has yielded 
two otherwise unknown divine epithets: *baradata- 76 and barzoxara-. 
This suggests the richness and diversity which once existed in the 
devotional language of the faith. One of the proper names of the 
present inscription is Cappadocian, the other two are Greco- 
Roman; but since Greco-Roman names were being generally taken 
by this time, this tells us nothing definite about those who bore 

There was an important highway which, partly to avoid winter 
flooding, branched off from the Royal Road before this crossed the 
Halys, and led south through Morimene to Mazaka. Nitalis thus 
had good communications with western Asia Minor; and it is 
tempting to speculate whether it might not have been from this 
region that the poet Diogenes heard reports of "Bactrian maidens 
dwelling beside the Halys river", who like those of Lydia made 
music for Artemis of Mount Tmolus, that is, for Anahit." 

The many temples of the Persian religion in Cappadocia, of 
which only this one at Nitalis is so far individually known, evi- 

74 R. P. Harper, "'A dedication to the goddess Anaitis at Ortakoy, north of 
Aksaray (Nitalis?)", AS XVII, 1967, 193 with PI. XVII. 

7d R. Sehmitt, "BAPZOXAPA — ein neues Anahita-Epitheton aus Kappado- 
kien", KZ 84, 1970, 207-10. (Contra, as t: of high xwarrah", WiJsander, "'BAP- 
ZOXAPA" Acta Or. XXXIV, 1972, 13-15.) 

76 Above, p. 205. See also Khsathrapati, p. 476. 

"Above, p. 204. 





dently needed a large Zoroastrian community to support them and 
their priests; and it is not surprising that Iranian names should 
occur there relatively frequently in HeJJenistic and still even in 
Roman times. (In addition to those of the kings already mentioned, 
there are recorded Aribas, Aribazos, Arsames, Maibouzanos, 
Maidates, Maiphernes/Magaphernes, Maiphates, Mithres, Mi- 
thratoxmes, Pharnakes, Sisines and Spites 78 .) The leaders of the 
Iranian community were presumably the high priests (though such 
an office is in fact attested only for the temple at Pontic Zela), and 
the nobles of Iranian descent, who probably spent part at least of 
each year on their estates and supported the local religious sanc- 
tuaries. That these nobles exercised considerable power and influ- 
ence under the Ariarathids is indicated, it has been suggested, by 
Strabo's statement that when after their victory at Magnesia the 
Romans "were forming friendships and alliances both with the 
tribes and with the kings, ... in all other cases they gave this 
honour to the kings individually, but gave it to the king of Cappa- 
docia and the tribe jointly*'. 79 When eventually Gappadocia be- 
came a Roman province, it received an unusual organization, for 
instead of its administration being based on cities in the standard 
way, ten territorial units were created, called, from the title given 
their governors, strategiae. m Several, if not most, of these governors 
are likely to have been of Iranian descent. 

It was, however, a lesser strategos who left an inscription cut into 
rock in a gorge near Farasa, a town in south-east Gappadocia by 
the Karmalas (modern Zamanti-Su). The inscription, which has 
been assigned to the first century A.C., is bilingual, in Aramaic and 
Greek; 81 and the two texts, both slightly damaged, together yield 
the declaration that "Sa(n)garios, son of Magaphernes, Strategos 
of Ariaramneia, e^dyeuoe Mi$QX}/ mgys [lm]trh\ The verb at first 
caused perplexity, for no similar expression was known in Zoroast- 
rian or Mithraic usage; but of the two interpretations which were 
proposed, "became a magus for Mithra" or "celebrated a magian 

78 G. de Jerphanion et L. Jalabert, "Taurus et Cappadoce". Melanges de la 
Faculte Orientale, University St-Joseph, Beyrouth, V, 1911, 327; Robert, Noms 
indigenes, 514—19. 

79 XI1.2.11; on the passage see Magie, RR, L096 n. 6. 

80 Jones, Cities, 177; cf. Ramsay, Geography, 281. 

91 For it see H. Gregoire, "Note sur une inscription greco-arameenne trouvee a 
Farasa (Ariaramneia-Rhodandos)", CRAI 1908, 4:34-47. Pace Vermaseren, 
CIMRM, I 50 no. 19, it is noi merely the last words of the inscription which are 
rendered in Aramaic. The Aramaic text, as given by Gregoire, is reproduced and 
discussed by M. Lidzbarski, Ephemeris fur semitische Epigraphik, 111, Giessen 
1915. 66-7. On the Greek see further Robert, "Bull, ep.", REG 1939, 443-4-; 
1958; 6. 

rite/sacrificed for Mithra", the latter gained more acceptance; and 
it was subsequently confirmed as correct through the discovery that 
in the Greek text of Sabuhr I's inscription on the Ka'ba-yi Zardust 
the verb ^ayveiv occurs as the equivalent ofyastan "to sacrifice". 
Moreover, it was shown that in Armenia, and presumably more 
gener dlly,yastan was used as a technical term for sacrificing an animal 
in a way peculiar (in the Middle East) to Zoroastrians, i.e. by 
clubbing the beast to death instead of using a sword or knife. 83 
Sacrifice was properly performed among Zoroastrians by priests; 84 
and it was presumably because this way of making it was particular to 
the magi that the verb mageuein came to be coined for it in the 
Hellenistic world, being used, it seems, by Greek speakers in Iran 
itself as well as in Asia Minor. The construction of the Farasa text, 
with "Mithre" as the indirect object of emageuse, is paralleled by a 
similar construction with the verb yaz- in a Sogdian work: "he who 
slaughters (animals) and sacrifices to a god, pyw 'yzty". 85 Whether 
there was really a similar Aramaic idiom, or whether the Aramaic 
usage in the Farasa text was simply in imitation of the Greek, cannot 
be established without more evidence; but in any case the testimony of 
the Aramaic phrase here (the work presumably of a scribe of Iranian 
stock), and of the Greek one on the Ka'ba (in a text composed for a 
Zoroastrian king) shows that Zoroastrians themselves saw nothing 
objectionable in the usage. That the magi should have accepted 
this idiom as not derogatory to their calling indicates how essential 
and meritorious they themselves considered the rite of animal 
sacrifice to be. 

Animal sacrifice remained a prominent feature in Mithra's cult 
in traditional Zoroastrian communities down to modern times; 86 
but it was offered to other yazatas also, and was a regular part of the 
yasna service. Too much cannot therefore be made of the Farasa 
text in this respect; but it is clearly of importance as providing 
another piece of direct evidence for the worship of Zoroastrian 
Mithra in Asia Minor. 

Once a Mithraic identification for the inscription has been 
abandoned, there is even less reason than before for identifying as a 

95 A. Maricq, "Classica et Orientalia 5. Res gestae divi Saporis' 
1958, 320 n. 5, on SKZ, Greek 1. 53. 

Syria XXXV : 

Benveniste. "Sur Ja terminologie iranienne du sacrifice", JA 1954, 45-58, 
and especially p. 51 ff. On this ritual see further below, pp. 296-7. 

9 * Boyce, "Haoma, priest of the sacrifice", W. B. Henning Memorial Vol., 
London 1970, 69; Stronghold, 245 with p. 121. 

95 Sutra of the Causes and Effects of Actions (SCE), 1. 248, cited by Benveniste, 
art. cit., p. 47. 

86 See Boyce, "Mihragan among the Irani Zoroastrians", in MSl., 1 110—14. 





mithraeum an empty cave cut high in the rock-face some two and a 
half km. downstream, with rock-cut steps leading up to it. — As for 
Sangarios' position as strategos> it is suggested that the Ariaramneia 
which he commanded may have been a hill fort guarding a crossing 
of the Rarmalas. His father's name, Magaphernes, Aramaic 
mkgprn, is unquestionably Iranian (a parallel form, Maphernes, is 
recorded earlier in the same region, that is, at Mazaka-Eusebia 87 ). 
His own name, now read as 2,a(y)yaQioc, i.e. Sa(n)garios, has been 
linked with that of the great Phrygian river. 88 

From Mazaka-Eusebia, by then re-named by the Romans Cae- 
sarea, has come part of a marble column with a Latin inscription 
recording the votive offering of an image of the sun to the "un- 
conquered Sun, Mithra" (solem soli invicto Mitkrae). 89 This is un- 
doubtedly Mithraic, not Zoroastrian, and belongs fittingly in a 
town which had a large Roman garrison. There is, however, 
uncertainty in this respect over a Greek inscription from Tyana: 
"To the just god Mithra" {thed dikaio Mitkrai)? for although in 
Zoroastrianism Mithra is worshipped as the Judge — of men's souls 
and all the world — the epithet "just" is not in fact given him in any 
extant Zoroastrian text, nor yet in any Mithraic one. (The state- 
ment, often repeated, that dikaios is attested as a popular epithet of 
his rests on a tentative supposition, now known to be wrong, that 
he was the "holy and just god" (tkeos kosios kai dikaios) of Phrygian 
inscriptions. 91 ) 

Yet despite the rarity of demonstrably Zoroastrian inscriptions 
to Mithra (as to any other yazata) in Gappadocia, there is an 
indication that great devotion was in fact paid to him there. This is 
the strong likelihood that traits from his concept were absorbed 
into the cult of St. George of Gappadocia. 92 There may, it is 

97 Robert, Noms indigenes, 516-17, with other Cappadocian names with a first 
element deriving from Iranian mah~ (in Magaphernes from *mah-aka-, in Mapher- 
nes from simple mah-). 

98 Robert, o.c., p. 536 f. The name is also recorded for a Mithraist. 
"Cumont, BCHLIX, 1931, 179, TMMM, lino. 2; Vermaseren, CIMRM, I 

49 no. 17. 

90 Cumont, TMMM, II no. 3; Vermaseren, o.c, p. 49 no. 18, 

91 O. Puchstein in Humann-Puchstein, Reisen,. 341-2. Cumont (o.c, II p. 172 
no. 528) was at first sceptical, then (ib., I p. 232 n. 1) inclined to accept the 
identification; but Robert has since identified not only numerous Phrygian dedica- 
tions to a "holy andjust god', but others in the pi. to "holy and just gods", some 
for a neutral Hosion Dikaion, and even one to "the Divine, to Holiness and Justice", 
iTheio Hosio kai Dikaio.) All these dedications, he argued eloquently, belonged to 
the indigenous Phrygian religion, which he saw as possessing a depth of true piety 
and feeling (CRAI 1975, 267—9, a reference I owe to the kindness of M. Chuvin). 
Cf. above, p. 239 n. 229. 

92 Von Gutschmid, "Ueber die Sage vom h. Georg als Beitrag zur iranischen 
Mythengeschichte", Kl. Schriflen, III 173-204. 

thought, have genuinely been a high-ranking Christian officer 
named Georgios in the Roman army who suffered martyrdom, 
probably under Diocletian; but "in the canon of Pope Gelasius 
(494) George is mentioned in a list of those 'whose names are justly 
reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God', a 
statement which implies that legends had already grown up around 
his name". 93 His association with Cappadocia goes back to the 
earliest record of these legends in the fifth century; and among the 
traits which he is thought to have inherited from Mithra are those 
of a well-armed warrior, unconquerable, valiant, mounted on a 
white horse (Mithra, a chariot god in his yast, and in some of his 
representations as Helios, was often conceived as a riding god in 
Greco-Roman times 94 ); pure, radiant; conferring peaee. wealth and 
blessings; bringing help at need, and a fighter against evil (embod- 
ied in the dragon). 93 There is also a story that after a farmer had 
sacrificed all his livestock in thanksgiving to St. George, the "Cap- 
padocian Count" himself attended the resulting feast, and after- 
wards had the bones brought to him of the animals eaten at it and 
restored the creatures to life. 96 This tale undoubtedly seems in full 
harmony with Iranian tradition. 97 In general the above traits are 
more striking when isolated in an analytic summary than when 
found scattered through the legends themselves; but there can be 
no doubt that wherever there were Zoroastrians, Mithra was 
worshipped, and it is perfectly credible that the martyred Cappa- 
docian soldier should have become heir in some degree to the 
Iranian warrior yazata, who had been worshipped and invoked for 
help by so many generations in his native land. 

There is a question also in Cappadocia of the relationship 
between Zoroastrianism and the indigenous religion (of which little 
is known). Numerous though they were, the expatriate Iranians 
were clearly a minority in the land, whose tongue remained predo- 
minantly Cappadocian; 98 and there were probably many small 
shrines scattered about the countryside to the old Anatolian gods, 

91 Enc. Brit., 13th ed., XI 737. 

94 Sec further below, p. 484 ff. 

95 Yet other borrowed traits were found by von Gutschmid, but some seem 
forced, see C. Colpe, "Mithra-Verehrung, Mithras-KuJt und die Existenz irani- 
scher Mysterien", in MSt., II 393 with nn« 65, 66. 

96 Cumont, "St. George and Mithra 'The Cattle-thief," JRS XXVII, 1937, 

97 Cf. below, p. 365. 

9a Still in the 4th century A.C. Bishop Basil (de Spirit. Sanct., 29) could rejOLCe 
(hat this face saved his flock from succumbing to a heresy which depended on a 
grammatical nicety that was meaningless in their language, see Jones, Cities, 430 
n. 2. 



while the major sanctuaries at Comana and elsewhere were 
wealthy and their priests influential. Some interaction between the 
two religions could therefore be reasonably supposed, even were 
there no evidence to suggest it. In fact there is a little, notably that 
furnished by two proper names of high officials of the Cappadocian 
kings. The son was called Menophilos, "Friend of the Moon", the 
father Maidates, "Given by the Moon" — family names which 
undoubtedly, taken together, appear to equate the Zoroastrian 
moon-yazata Mah with the great Anatolian moon-god Men." The 
existence of such an equation helps to account for the otherwise 
surprising number of names compounded with "Mah" in Cappa- 
docia. This was probably one of a number of devotional areas in 
which the two religions could to a certain extent come together. 
Another was in reverence to mountains, a marked feature of 
ancient Zoroastrianism, which in the Cappadocian religion is 
strikingly attested in the worship ofMount Argaeus, acknowledged 
in the coinage of Mazaka-Caesarea. 100 It is difficult to suppose that 
Zoroastrians of that region would not have joined in offering 
veneration to this noble peak, with its perennial snows; and in 
general a common reverence for natural objects may well have 
brought some adherents of the two religions to share in each other's 
rites. For some, such tolerance may have been encouraged by 
intermarriages. Thus (if the restoration of his name is correct) a 
nobleman who was both high priest of Comana and a gymnasiarch 
of that city after its hellenization was called Arsames son of 
lazemis. The latter is a characteristic Cappadocian name; and the 
same mixture in a family of Iranian and Cappadocian names 
occurs in the case of another distinguished man who became a 
citizen of distant Miletus, and who was called Mithridates son of 
lazemis. IU[ Such intermarriages— if this is indeed the explanation 

99 So Robert, Noma indigenes, 511- 15. 

100 Caesarea was a mint city for the Roman imperial dominions in the east, and 
from the time of Tiberius issued an abundant coinage. The types are in general 
purely Roman, almost the only exception being" frequent representations of 
Argaeus. Among the varieties of devices showing the mountain arc some with a 
tree or animals on its slopes, or with four figures apparently climbing up it; and 
often there is a star on its summit, or an eagle, or a naked male figure, radiate, 
with sceptre and globe. The agalma or model of the mountain is also often shown as 
an object of worship on an altar or in a temple. See Wroth, BMC Galatia, pp. 
72-94 with Pis. XI-XIII; Imhoof-Blumer, Monnaies grecques, p. 418 with PI. 
H. The naked figure has been interpreted as that of the deified Roman emperor (so 
Wroth, o.c, pp. xxxix-xl) or of Helios; but E. A. Sydenham, The coinage of 
Caesarea in Cappadocia, London 1933, 19-20, understood it torepresent the "Genius of 
Argaeus"; and Bittel, agreeing (art. cit. in n. 42, pp. 25—7) considered that the local 
Zoroastrians might well have contributed to the development and importance of this 

101 Robert, o.c, pp. 124, 220, 433, 436-^tO. 



for these pairs of names^are most likely to have taken place among 
the well-born and wealthy, with their greater freedom of movement 
and wider social intercourse; and they would clearly have been a 
factor in the spread of Zoroastrian beliefs in Cappadocia beyond 
the Zoroastrian community itself, and also in the absorption of 
local ones into the Iranian religion there. 

That the Zoroastrian community remained nevertheless a dis- 
tinct and separate one down the centuries, continuing to nourish 
and maintain its fire-temples far into Roman imperial times is 
shown by two very different texts. One is the inscription of Kirder, 
in which he names "the provincial capital Caesarea and the pro- 
vince of Cappadocia" among the places where Shabuhr I s soldiers 
came upon co-religionists."* The other is the letterwnttei. in the 
following century by Bishop Basil of Caesarea (c.330-379), whose 
vast diocese at first took in the whole province, so that he needed 
fifty ckorepiscopi to help him minister to it. 103 Despite many calls on 
his time Basil was a tireless correspondent; and at the end of a long 
letter written in 377 to a fellow-ecclesiastic, Bishop Epiphanius ol 
Salamis in Cyprus, he replied to a query the latter had put to him 
concerning the Zoroastrians in Cappadocia: "So for the nation of 
Maeusaeans (to de ton Magousaion etknos), to which you saw nt to call 
our attention in another letter, it is widely scattered amongst us 
throughout almost the whole country, colonists having long ago 
been introduced to our country from Babylon. And these have 
practised their own peculiar customs, not mingling with other 
peoples; and it is altogether impossible to employ reasoning with 
them inasmuch as they have been preyed upon by the devil 
according to his wish. For there are neither books amongst them, 
nor teachers of doctrine, but they are brought up in an unreasoning 
manner receiving their impiety by transmission from father to son. 
Now apart from these facts, which are observed by all, they reject 
the slaying of animals as a defilement, slaughtering through the 
hands of others the animals necessary for their needs; they rave 
after unlawful marriages; and they beheve in fire as God; and other 
such things. But regarding their descent from Abraham, no one ol 
the magi (ton magdn) has up to the present told us any myths about 
that but in fact they claim a certain Zarnuas as the founder of their 
race. Accordingly. I can write nothing more to your Honour about 
thenT.' * 

109 Cf. above, p. 255. 

" ^158^^ ofhis Collected Letters, Vol. IV, 3«7; the Greek .ex, 
of the relevant passage is given by Cumont, TMMM, 1 10 n. 3). 



Epiphanius' interest in the magousaioi had evidently been 
prompted by his hearing of their supposed descent from 
Abraham — a fiction current in some circles at this time, 105 but not, 
as Basil attests, among the Zoroastrians of Cappadocia. He, it is 
clear from his letter, had had actual encounters with them in his 
diocese (as well, doubtless, as receiving reports on them from 
baffled subordinates); and his remarks attest the usage there of 
magousaioi for Zoroastrians as a community, magoi still for their 
priests. It is generally accepted that his "Zarnuas" is a corruption 
of "Zarvan" or "Zurvan" — hardly an ancestor, but rather the high 
god of Zoroastrians of the Zurvanite persuasion. This is one of 
several pieces of evidence showing that Zurvanism was widespread 
among the Zoroastrians of Asia Minor; and this is not surprising, 
since this heterodoxy appears to have evolved under the late 
Achaemenians in their western territories — very possibly among 
magi in Babylon. 106 That all the magi of Cappadocia should 
themselves have come there from Babylon is, pace Bishop Basil, 
wholly improbable, since their distant forbears, like those of the 
magi of Lydia, are likely to have arrived in that land in the service 
of diverse groups of lay settlers; but the regard for Chaldean 
astronomy was so great in the Hellenistic age, and its influence in 
certain respects so considerable on the magi themselves, that the 
Cappadocian priests may have claimed ancient links with Babylon 
half sincerely, half to gain prestige in the eyes of hellenized 
fellow-citizens. 107 

That their community still nevertheless handed down its reli- 
gious teachings orally, without help from books, is a valuable 
observation of Bishop Basil's, as is his comment on the tenacious 
holding by the magousaioi to their own customs, while keeping aloof 
from others. This presumably applied especially to their rural 
communities. The bishop's other remarks are rather less illuminat- 
ing. The reference to kkvaelvadalha is of a standard type, as is the 
statement about their regarding fire as God. The observation about 
their considering the killing of animals a defilement contradicts 
Strabo's concerning the Zoroastrians of the same region, made 
about three and a half centuries earlier, and there is no other 
evidence to show whether Basil was mistaken over this, or, if not, 
why or when such a change had taken place. Tantalising though 
his report is in its casual cursoriness, it is invaluable in attesting, 

1BS See further below, pp. 436-7. 

106 So, first, Spiegel, EA II, 9-12; cf. HZ II, 239-41. 

107 On links of the magi with Babylon see further below, pp. 368, 386 ff. 



beyond a shadow of doubt, that in Cappadocia the Zoroastrians 
still formed a numerous and distinct community over seven 
hundred years after the downfall of the Achaemenian Empire, and 
that their faith was firm enough to resist persistent Christian 
proselytizing, even though this was backed by the authority of the 

There was moreover one possession of theirs that was still known 
to the outside world in the fourth century, namely their calendar 
(familiar, for instance, to Basil's correspondent, Epiphanius). 108 
Cappadocia was then one of the most important provinces of the 
Eastern Roman Empire, and the month-names of its calendar were 
presumably entered in official imperial handbooks; 109 but the com- 
plete series of them survives only in later works of Greek 
astronomers." Detailed scrutiny of the manuscripts, with their 
variants, enabled the list of twelve month names to be established; 
and they proved to correspond almost exactly (allowing for dialect 
differences and the passage of time) with those of the Avestan 
calendar. 1 " It is evident that under the Achaemenians a common 
calendar was introduced among Zoroastrians throughout their 
empire; and that, since the Persians were then politically dominant 
in Cappadocia, this calendar became established as the one used 
generally there, to survive as such under the Ariarathids. 

Since the Iranian spoken in Cappadocia belonged to the western 
group of Iranian languages, the calendar-names there are in some 
respects closer linguistically to the Middle Persian than the Aves- 
tan ones; but they are more archaic in form, and in this regard 
nearer to the latter. For comparative purposes therefore the three 
sets of names are given in the following table (the Avestan ones in 
the genitive, the uninflected Middle Persian ones in their earliest 






Young Avestan 
Asahe vahistahe 

Early Middle Persian 





108 P. de Lagarde, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, Leipzig 1866, 258. The basic 
studies of the Cappadocian calendar are ib., pp. 258-65, and J. Marquart, 
Untersuchungen, 210-15. 

,09 Marquart, o.c, p. 210. 

1,0 On these see Lagarde, o.c, pp. 223-32. 

IJl The latter have to be deduced from the day names of thtyasna liturgy, Y.16, 
together with the various Middle Iranian sets of month names. The list is 
reproduced (with minor divergences) by Cumont, TMMM, I 132; Nyberg, ReL, 
479; Duchesne-Guillemin, Rel., 121. 






Young Avestan 

Early Middle Persian 







Khsathrahe vairyehe 




















Varjhaus manarjho 




Spsntaya armatois 


There are a number of details here of linguistic interest;" 2 but 
from the point of view of religious history what is important is the 
exactness in the main of the correspondences between the calen- 
dars, showing how largely uniform were the usages adopted in the 
Zoroastrian community. The only divergences He in the substitu- 
tion of Teiri (TTr) for Avestan Tistrya, which appears to have been 
widespread 113 ; and in the dedication of the eightli month, not to the 
"waters", Apam, but to the "Son of the Waters' 1 , Apam Napat, 
that is, to great Varuna." 4 He thus follows his brother- Ahura, 
Mithra, directly in these month-dedications, as he does regularly 
elsewhere (in invocations, in the guardianship of the watches of the 
day, and in all general references to the activities of this fraternal 
pair). This month-dedication is, as far as is known, unique to the 
Cappadocian calendar; and it seems to bear out the hypothesis that 
there was controversy in the community in Achaemenian times 
over the promotion of Anahit at the expense of Varuna (it being 
Anahit who elsewhere, popularly though not formally, annexed the 
day of the Waters for herself" 5 ). The dedication to Apam Napat is 

112 These are discussed by Lagarde and Marquart, I.e. 

113 Cf. HZ II 204-6, 248. 

m See lastly Boyce, "Apam Napat", Elr. II 14-50; "Mithra Khiathrapati and 
his brother Ahura", Studies in honour of R. N. Frye, BAI n.s. 4, 1990 (in press). 
That "*Apomenapa" represented Apam Napat was recognized by Lagarde, o.c, 
p. 262 (who emended the ms. reading, Apomenama). 

115 Cf. HZ II 247-8. Axiahit's cult, introduced at Bactra by Artaxerxes II, does 
not appear to have flourished in eastern Iran in Hellenistic times (see above, p. 
187 f.}. But the persistence of popular devotion there to Apam Napat appears to be 
attested by a wall painting at Panjikent (in room 1 of Sector xxii), dated to the 8th 
century A.C. (For the following description of this I am indebted to a personal 
communication by Professor Boris Marshak.) The painting is one of a number of 
murals in the house of a wealthy merchant or nobleman, but was set in a large 
niche opposite the door — a position usually accorded, it is thought, to a family's 
patron divinities. The god in question is of youthful appearance, with plaited 
locks; and he is richly dressed and regally enthroned. A ring of flame surrounds 
him, with tongues of fire beyond it; and near it, against a blue background, are 
fishes, lotus flowers and a triton. Before him stands, in a subordinate position, 
another divinity, identified by an inscription on his leg as Velparkar — that is, for 

further of interest in that it shows that even under the mighty 
Achaemenians, and even in an area where Persian ecclesiastical 
influence was apparently strong, there was still an element oriocal 
priestly autonomy, ready presumably to develop further once Alex- 
ander's conquest had shattered Persia's power. 


The foundation of the kingdom of Pontus is parallel with that of 
Cappadocia, in so far as both were the Creations of aristocratic 
Iranian adventurers, who seized their opportunities after the 
downfall of the Achaemenians. 116 At the time of Alexander's inva- 
sion, a certain Mithradates son of Ariobarzanes was hereditary 
governor of Cius, a city on the Propontis (Sea of Marmara) . There 
he maintained himself, having become a vassal of Antigonus, until 
302, when the latter, scenting a shift of allegiance on his part, put 
him to death. A son or nephew, his namesake, escaping eastward, 
made his way to Amasia in Pontic Cappadocia, a town in a deep 
gorge of the Iris, where that river breaks through the mountains to 
reach the Black Sea, From there (with the help at times of Galatian 
mercenaries) he acquired territories that grew into the kingdom of 
Pontus, so that he is recognized as Mithradates I (c.297-c,261), the 
founder of his dynasty. 117 He struck coins on which he used the title 
"king"; and these, in contrast with the early Ariarathid coins, are 
wholly Hellenistic in character. The legend is in Greek letters, on 
the obverse is the head of Athene, and on the reverse, in imitation 

Sogdian Zoroastrians, Vayu; and above him was painted a fierce-looking bird of 
prey, engaged apparently in battle. This F. G. sees as Camrus, lighting against the 
enemies of [ran, which is associated with Apam Napat (as "Burz", i.e. Ahura 
berezant) in GBd. XXIV.24. In GBd. XXVL91 a task of Burz is said to be that 
he "watches always over khwarrah" i.e. the fiery khvaremh (cf. Yt. 19.51) — hence, 
Dr. Marshak thinks, the flames around this youthful but evidently mighty god in 
what seems a depiction appropriate for the "Son of the Waters". 

116 On Pontus see Rcinach, Mith. Eupator, 206-45; Rostovtzeff, "Pontus and 
its neighbours: the First Mithridatic War", CAH IX (1932), 211-60; E. Ols- 
hauseu, "Pontos", PW, Supp.Bd. XV (1978), cols. 396-442; E. Olshausen and J. 
Biller, His tori schgeographische Aspekte der Geschichte des pontischen und armo 
nischen Reiches, Wiesbaden 1984, I. — Because of the Roman wars of Mithradates 
VI, there is a large specialist literature on this kingdom. — Reinach, o.c, p. 40 n. 2, 
points out that during the Hellenistic period coins and inscriptions regularly give 
the name as "Mithradates", i.e. in its Iranian form (cf. above, p. 231 n. 175); and 
that it was only in Roman times that "Mithridates" became current. 

"' The dates of the early Mithradatids are uncertain; but it seems reasonable to 
follow those who see the beginning of effective rule by Mithradates I as coinciding 
with year one of the Pontic-Bithynian era. Some scholars call this king Mithra- 
dates II, and consider his father or uncle, the dynast of Cius, to be Mithradates I. 





of a well-known type of Alexander's, a standing Nike. 11 * 

The history- of the eastward spread of Pontic power is unknown. 
To the west, the wealthy port of Amastris, far along the Paphlago- 
nian coast (which had been founded by a niece of Darius III), 
submitted to Mithradates' son Ariobarzanes in 279, by which time 
Pontus presumably controlled other smaller coastal towns in be- 
tween. Ariobarzanes' own reign was relatively short (c.261-c.255 
?). and he issued no coins. He was succeeded by Mithradates II at 
about the time that Ariarathes III took the title of king in 
Cappadocia. 119 The Pontic kingdom was by then sufficiently firmly 
established for Mithradates to receive, like Ariarathes, a Seleucid 
princess in marriage, in his case Laodice, sister of Seleucus II (and 
of Stratonice, Ariarathes' queen). 120 One of the daughters of this 
union, also called Laodice, married her cousin Antiochus III. and 
became the first Seleucid queen to be venerated under the state cult 
of the living ruler. 121 Her younger sister, of the same name, wedded 
first Antiochus Hierax and then Achaius. Their brother reigned in 
Pontus as Mithradates III (c.220-c.l85), and again struck coins, 
on which, on the obverse, he set his own portrait head (with 
diadem or laurel wreath about his bare locks). This was to be 
thereafter the standard practice of the dynasty. The reverses show a 
standing Hera, or Zeus enthroned. 122 

Mithradates III was succeeded by his son Pharnaces I. one of 
the most ambitious and energetic of the Pontic kings. He sought to 
extend his realm at the expense both of the Greek cities of the coast 
and of the Cappadocian hinterland. In the former area he accom- 
plished the signal feat of capturing the great port of Sinope, which 
he held, making it his new capital; but inland, though allied with 
Prusias of Bithynia, he met with defeat by the combined forces of 
Cappadocia (under Ariarathes III) and Pergamum. He again 
married a Seleucid princess, by whom he left a young son at his 
death in c.160. His brother succeeded him as Mithradates IV 
Philopator Philadelphos, his queen being their sister, yet another 
Laodice, who appears with him on their coins, and also in her own 
right. 123 Mithradates IV has a place in Anatolian history as aiding 

1,8 Alram, Nomina, p. 30, Taf. 1.22 (as Mithradates II). 

119 Above, p. 267. 

120 Above, p. 28. 

121 Above, p. 89. , ,_, , 
112 Alram, o.c., p. 30, Taf. 1.23-25. (This scholar is among those who hold thai 

there was only one king named Mithradates, whom they call the third, between 
Ariobarzanes and Pharnaces, ruling for some 40 years.) 

159 Alram, o.c, p. 30 Taf. 24-8 (Pharnaces), 29 (Mithradates IV), 30 (Mithra- 
dates IV with Laodice). The reverses continue to bear Greek representations of 

Attalus I of Pergamum against Prusias in 156. 124 He was followed 
on the throne, before 149, by his nephew Mithradates V Euergetes, 
son of Pharnaces, who in 133 fought for the Romans against 
Aristonicus and was rewarded by them with the munificent gift of 
Phrygia. 125 He was then the richest and most powerful king in Asia 
Minor; but in about 120 he was assassinated, and Rome seized the 
opportunity to annex Phrygia, adding it to its province of Asia. 
Mithradates* widow, yet another Seleucid princess, assumed the 
regency, ostensibly on behalf of their two young sons, both named 
Mithradates; but by 116 she had been either killed or imprisoned, 
and these two were, it seems, reigning jointly as Mithradates 
Eupator and Mithradates Ghrestos. From about 112 the elder was 
the sole ruler, being known as Mithradates VI, or more generally 
as Mithradates the Great. 

Mithradates VI possessed the vigorous territorial ambitions of 
his grandfather Pharnaces, and fate offered him even greater oppor- 
tunities. Hardly had he gained the throne before the Greeks of 
Ghersonesus and Bosporus in the Crimea, who had long had close 
relations with Sinope, appealed to him for protection from Sarma- 
tians of the steppes. Mithradates sent a series of expeditions, which 
established the sway of Pontus over the Greek cities of the Crimea 
and the north coast of the Black Sea, and yielded him not only- 
increased revenues, but also potential reserves of mercenaries 
among the conquered tribesmen. Meantime he himself had con- 
verted Pontic suzerainty over Lesser Armenia into direct rule 
there, and had acquired Trapezius and the coastlands around it, 
and the kingdom of Colchis in the south-east corner of the Black 

To the west Bithynia, under the likewise ambitious Nicomedes 
III, was sometimes his ally, sometimes his adversary, while his 
hold over Cappadocia to the south was now effective, now loosed 
again by the intervention, through injunctions, of Rome. In 89, 
however, Rome not only insisted on replacing Ariobarzanes on the 
throne of Cappadocia, 126 but demanded indemnities from Mithra- 
dates, and on his refusal ordered Bithynia (by then ruled by 
Rome's protege, Nicomedes IV) to invade Pontus; and this led to 
armed conflict between Pontus and Rome, known as the First 
Mithradatic War (89—85). The Pontic king was at first over- 
whelmingly successful, conquering Bithynia, Galatia and Phrygia, 
and occupying the Roman province of Asia with hardly a blow 

,a * Above, p. 215. 

125 Above, p. 220. 

126 Above, p. 269. 







!; , 




struck. Everywhere he presented himself as a philhellene and 
liberator, with deep hostility to Rome — a hostility shared by almost 
all those suffering the extortion and misgovernment which then 
prevailed under the republic. From Ephesus, where he had estab- 
lished his headquarters, Mithradates ordered a massacre of Romans 
living in the province of Asia, of whom, according to tradition, 80,000 
perished. At the end of 88 he sent an army to invade Greece, with a 
supporting fleet, and there too he was generally welcomed. All 
Rome's eastern possessions were now in his hands; and his easy 
victories over the hitherto apparently invincible western power won 
him a place in both Roman and Asian history, and caused heroic 
legends to gather around him. 

It was his misfortune that at this juncture Rome was able to send 
against him the brilliant and ruthless Sulla. Sulla reconquered 
Greece, treating its inhabitants with a punitive harshness that filled 
the province of Asia with dread. Some local revolts against Mithra- 
dates took place, which he succeeded in suppressing; but neverthe- 
less before long he opened negotiations with Sulla, and in 85 peace 
was concluded, greatly to Mithradates' disadvantage; he surren- 
dered all his conquests and withdrew to Pontus, leaving Asia to 
suffer miserably in its turn at Sulla's hands.' 2 ' 

There followed an uneasy decade, in which Roman armies thrice 
broke the peace terms by raiding Pontic territories. In 74 Ni- 
comedes IV of Bithynia died, and like Attalus III of Pergamum left 
his kingdom to his Roman protectors. It at once fell prey to Roman 
tax-farmers, and Mithradates was welcomed when he invaded it in 
73; but this time he had from the outset an able opponent in the 
field, namely Lucullus, and the Second Mithradatic War proved 
even more disastrous for him than for the first. After four years of 
campaigning Lucullus held Pontus itself, and Mithradates was a 
fugitive in the kingdom of his son-in-law, Tigranes the Great of 
Armenia. There Lucullus pursued him, defeating Tigranes and 
destroying his brief empire. It was during this campaign, Plutarch 
relates, that when the Roman general crossed the Euphrates from 
Cappadocia into Armenian Sophene, "a favourable sign accom- 
panied his crossing. Heifers pasture there which are sacred to 
Persian Artemis, a goddess whom the barbarians on the further 
side of the Euphrates hold in the highest honour. These heifers are 
used only for sacrifice, and at other times are left to roam about the 
country at large, with brands upon them in the shape of the torch of 
the goddess. Nor is it a slight or easy matter to catch any of them 

when they are wanted. One of these heifers, after the army had 
crossed the Euphrates, came to a certain rock which is deemed 
sacred to the goddess, and stood upon it, and lowering its head 
without any compulsion from the usual rope, offered itself to 
Lucullus for sacrifice. He also sacrificed a bull to the Euphrates, in 
acknowledgement of his safe passage." 128 

The next year Tigranes sent Mithradates with a small force back 
to Pontus, which he succeeded in repossessing in this, the Third 
Mithradatic War, being generally welcomed by its people. His 
Crimean territories had been lost to him, however, through the 
disloyalty of their governor, one of his own sons; and he had 
comparatively few resources left with which to meet the Roman 
general Pompey, who marched against him in 66. Mithradates was 
once more driven from his kingdom, and took refuge in Colchis, 
from where he managed to reach the Crimea. There his treacherous 
son committed suicide, and he himself regained control and began 
to make ambitious new plans (notably to invade Italy along the 
Danube); but he was now old, these plans came to nothing, and in 
63 he had himself slain by a soldier. News of his death was received 
with rejoicing throughout the Roman world; and with him, it is 
generally held, resistance to Rome by the hellenized Orient came 
finally to an end. 129 

The Mithradatids, as descendants of dynasts of Cius. were 
evidently in large measure hellenized from the first, in a way that 
was not true of the Cappadocian Ariarathids. (In the fourth cen- 
tury B.C. the first of those dynasts to be known, Mithradates son of 
Orontobates, had presented to the Academy at Athens a statue of 
Plato, the work of Silanion, and may thus be supposed to have had 
some knowledge of, and genuine interest in, Plato's thought. 130 ) 
Thereafter their frequent intermarriages with the Seleucids, and 
the importance in their kingdom of the wealthy and long- 
established Greek cities of the coast, ensured that this hellenization 
continued. Yet they remained proud of their Iranian descent, 
laying dubious claim, like the Ariarathids, to Achaemenian blood. 
Greek names were given to daughters, but Iranian ones to sons, the 
bearers of the family line; and among the sons and grandsons of 
Mithradates the Great were a Kyros, a Dareios and a Xerxes — 



126 Plutarch, Lucullus, 24.6-7. 

129 In the kingdom of Bosporus one of Mithradates' sons ruled as Pharnaces II, 
63-^7 B.C. In 40 B.C. Mark Antony revived a kingdom of Pontus, and Dareios, 
son of this Pharnaces, ruled it for a few years. 

130 Favorinus apnd Diogenes Laertius, III. 20; cited by Reinach, Mith, Eupator, 





Persian names in their Greek forms. 131 This mingling of Iranian 
and Greek traditions can be traced back to their forbears in Cius, 
who set on their coins the image of Perseus, the Greek hero claimed 
by Persians as their legendary ancestor, or his representative, the 
winged horse Pegasus. 132 Pegasus appears also on Pontic coins 133 ; 
and some scholars have seen Perseus on early issues of Mithradates 
the Great, represented, it has been held, by a portrait head of the 
beardless young king himself. 134 " A fine marble statue-head found at 
Amisos (modern Samsun) has been interpreted in the same way. 135 
Doubt has been expressed, however, as to whether Perseus would 
have been portrayed in such a way, without any of his characteris- 
tic attributes. 136 

The mingling of Iranian and Greek elements was not by Iranians 
only, but took place in Greek families also in Asia Minor (a fact of 
some importance for the diffusion of Zoroastrian ideas in the 
Hellenistic world). An example from late Achaemenian times is 
that of Clearchus, tyrant of Heraclia in Pontus in the fourth 
century, who appears to have adopted elements of Persian ceremo- 
nial (including demanding the proskynests). 157 His son Dionysios 
married the Achaemenian princess Amastris, and while the elder 
son of this marriage was called Glearchus after his paternal grand- 
father, the younger was named Oxathres after his maternal grand- 

131 Even for princesses there appear among; the recurring Laodices and Nysas a 
Roxane, together with Stateira; but these last two names had Macedonian links, 
since they were those of the Iranian wives of Alexander. Two of Mithradates' 
other daughters, Eupatra and Athenais, were given as usual Greek names. The 
names of his children are naturally better known than those of his predecessors, 
several having figured in Roman triumphs; but though comparative material is 
lacking, it seems likely that Mithradates, with his large ambitions, was the first of 
his line to give his sons names of the great Achaemenians. "One may see in this 
the hostility to the West, generated by the wars, and the increasing hope for 
support from the East, which gradually became the only hope left" (J. J. Porta- 
nova, The associates of Mithradates VJ of Pontus, Columbia University doctoral 
thesis, 1987). 

132 Cf. above, p. 230; and for the coins of Cius, G. Kleiner, "Pontische 
Reichsmiinzen",' 1st. Mitt. 6, 1955, 17-18. 

133 See ib., pp. 3, 4, 5; Alram, Nomina, Taf. 2.31. 

1M Wroth, BMC Pontus, xv-xvi; Cumont, "Le Persee d'Amisos". RA, 4th 
Series, III, 1905, 187; Kleiner, art. cic, pp. 5, 6, 11-12, 14, 15. 

135 Cumont, art. cit., pp. 180-9. 

136 Imhoof-Blumer, Monnaies grecques, 228, while discussing (pp. 227-9) the 
earlier coins of the town of Amastris and its Achaemenian foundress. Those bear 
similarly the head of a beardless youth, who wears the "Phrygian" cap with laurel 
wreath and stars; on the reverse is Aphrodite enthroned. With regard to these two 
devices, he agreed with those scholars who saw them as representing Persian 
divinities, i.e. Mithra and Anaitis. 

*' Justin, 16.5; Memnon apud Photios, cod. 224, beginning (references I owe to 
the kindness of M, Chuvin). 

father (brother of Darius III), and the daughter Amastris after her 
mother.' 36 The Mithradatids themselves had many Greek subjects, 
and there were numerous Greeks at the Pontic court, 139 with 
intermarriages taking place between Hellenes and Iranians. (A 
distinguished kinsman of Strabo's own, his mother's great-uncle, 
bore the name of Moaphernes. 140 ) Iranians and Greeks together 
were largely concerned in ruling the country; but there was a third 
(and presumably in the hinterland a more numerous group), which 
also produced men of distinction, namely that of the native Cappa- 
docians. Their importance was acknowledged officially, it seems, 
by the device of star and crescent set on almost every royal Pontic 
coin. This, it has been established, was the badge of Pontus itself 
rather than of the Mithradatids; 141 and it has been convincingly 
interpreted as the symbol of Men, the chief Pontic divinity of old. 142 
His great shrine was in the heartland of the Mithradatic kingdom, 
at Cabeira (later renamed Neoeaesarea, modern Niksar), a town in 
the valley of the Lycos. Of it Strabo wrote 143 : "Cabeira ... has also 
the temple of Men Pharnaku 1 " 14 ... the village-city of Ameria, 
which has many temple-servants, and also a sacred territory, the 
fruit of which is always reaped by the ordained priest. And the 
kings revered this temple so exceedingly that they proclaimed the 
royal oath as follows: 'By the Fortune (Tyche) of the king and by 
Men Pharnaku'." 145 The reverence given — possibly at first for 
diplomatic reasons — by the kings of Pontus to Men was, it seems, 
accorded this god by other Iranians also, in both Cappadocia and 
Pontus, to judge from personal names. 146 

Nearer still to the first Mithradatic capital, Amasia, was the 
great Zoroastrian sanctuary of Zela, 147 its sacred hill bearing, 

138 Memnon, I.e., cod. 224b. 

139 See Reinach, Mith. Eupator, 279-80; E. Olshausen, "Zum Hellenisierungs- 
prozess am pontischen Konigshof, Ancient Society V, 1974, 153-70; Portanova, 

Strabo XII. 3. 33. This name has been held to be Cappadocian- Iranian by L. 
Zgusta, Anatolische Personennamensippen, Prague 1964, 157-8. 

'*' Kleiner, art. cit., pp, 12-13. 

,w lb., p. 13. In the light of the evidence now available, this interpretation is to 
be preferred to earlier suggestions that the device alluded to the Persian descent of 
th ^Mithradatids (on account of Persian worship of celestial bodies!). 

XII.2.3J. In detail on (he position of Cabeira see Olshausen-Biller, oc in n 
116, p. 44 ff. 

m This name is generally taken to mean the temple of Men built (or perhaps 
rebuilt?) by Phamaces, probably Pharnaces I of Pontus, .see Gutschmid Kl 
Schnften, III 497; H. Oppermann, "Pharnaku", PW XIX.2 (19381 cols 
1854-5; Magie, RR, 1073 n 14. k J ' 

m On swearing by the King's Fortune cf. above, p. 57. 

,t6 Cf. above, p. 276. 

'" On its foundation according to Strabo see above, pp. 263-4. 





probably from late Achaemenian times, a temple dedicated to 
Anahit. This is likely to have been much embellished by the Pontic 
kings, for, says Strabo, "it is here that all the people of Pontus make 
their oaths concerning their matters of greatest importance". 148 A 
single fragment from the temple is recorded at the site itself, part of 
an elegantly carved Corinthian capital in white marble; 149 and 
bronze coins of Zela, issued in Roman imperial times, give some 
idea of its splendour, and attest moreover the maintenance there of 
the fire cult at least into the third century A.C. Of these coins, from 
the reigns of Septimius Severus (193-211) and Caracalla 
(211-217), one issue shows the crenellated courtyard gate, with 
the temple's pediment rising behind it, 150 and others the pillared 
portico of the temple itself, 151 represented in stylized fashion with 
either four or six pillars. 152 Between the central pair, in the position 
regularly accorded to the object of a temple's cult, is a fire leaping 
up in a bushy cone from a massive fire-holder. This holder is of 
pillar type, its sturdy pillar having a wider (but not stepped) top 
and base. Fire is similarly represented as the cult object on coins of 
Lydian Hypaipa; 153 but while at that city other more numerous 
coins represent Anahit's statue in the same way, no such device is 
attested at Zela! Yet Strabo writes only of Anahit's cult at the 
Pontic shrine (together with those of Omanus and Anadatus), the 
fire-cult being evidently subordinate there 15 * — a fact of observance 
which he, being relatively well informed about Zoroastrian usages, 
probably fully understood. 

Of Zela Strabo records that Pompey, after he had defeated 
Mithradates in 63 B.C. (possibly the very year of the geographer's 
own birth), "added many districts to its territory, and named it a 
city". 155 Earlier, he states, the kings had governed Zela "not as a 
city, but as a sacred precinct of the Persian gods, and the priest was 
the master of the whole thing. It was inhabited by the multitude of 
temple-servants, and by the priest, who had an abundance of 
resources; and the sacred territory as well as that of the priest was 
subject to him and his numerous attendants". 156 This description of 

148 XII.3.37. 


Cumont, Voyage d' exploration, 192-3. 

150 Price-Trell, Coins and their Cities, p. 195 fig. 362. 

151 Wroth, BMC Pontus, p. 41 nos. 1, 2 with PL VII.9, 10; Price-Trell. o.c, p. 

152 Sn this tvpe of stylization see Price-Trell, o.c, p. 19 (quoted above, p. 232). 

153 Above, p. 235. 

1M Cf. above, pp. 178-9,236. . 

1SS XII.3.37 (tr. by M. Chuvin, who kindly drew my attention to the inaccura- 
cies of the Loeb rendering). 
1M Ibid. 

the organization of Zela is very like that which Strabo gives of the 
organization of Comana in Cappadocia in his own day, 15 ' which 
was similar, he says, to that of Pontic Comana. The Achaemenians 
probably developed their shrine at Zela on the pattern of this older 
sanctuary nearby, endowing it with land so that it could equal the 
other in wealth and dignity. More lands would have come into the 
shrine's possession through bequests and pious donations over the 
years, forming accordingly not a continuous block of territory, but 
a number of scattered estates. The high priest was thus not a 
territorial dynast but rather a wealthy and powerful ecclesiastic on 
the pattern of some great abbot of medieval Christendom — hence 
Pompey's need to increase Zela's jurisdiction when he created it a 
city. 158 

Apart from Amasia itself, these three temple towns of Comana, 
Cabeira and Zela were the only ones of any size in inland Pontus. 
All three had busy markets, their great festivals being at the same 
time fairs, but Comana was evidently the largest and wealthiest of 
them. Of it Strabo wrote: 159 "Comana is a populous city and is a 
notable emporium for the people from Armenia; and at the time of 
the "exodus" [i.e. solemn procession] of the goddess people assem- 
ble there from everywhere, from both the cities and the country, 
men together with women, to attend the festival. And there are 
certain others, also, who in accordance with a vow are always 
residing there, performing sacrifices in honour of the goddess. And 
the inhabitants live in luxury . . .; and there is a multitude of 
women who make gain from their persons, most of whom are 
dedicated to the goddess, for in a way the city is a lesser Corinth." 
Of Zela he says, in contrast, that "the sacred rites performed here 
are of greater sanctity". 160 At the Persian shrine, he records, only 
one day a year was given over by custom to wanton revelry. This 
day, he says, was celebrated with a feast commemorating the 
sanctuary's foundation in thanksgiving for the defeat of the Sacas, 
hence its name, Sacaia. He terms it "a kind of Bacchic festival", at 
which "men, dressed in the Scythian garb, pass day and night 
drinking and playing wantonly with one another, and also with the 
women who drink with them". 1 * 1 He further says that the festival 
was held wherever there was a temple to the goddess of this 
shrine — as it appears, Anahit. 

157 XII.2.3, cf. above, p. 263. 

159 Jones, Cities, 156. The territories of Comana were enlarged at the same time 

and presumably for the same reason, Strabo XII.3.34. 
,M XII.3.36. 

160 XII.3.37. 

161 XI.8.5. 



There is another detailed reference to this feast in a passage of 
Athenaeus, who wrote: "Berosus [sic], in the first book of his 
Babylonian History, says that in the month of Loos, on the six- 
teenth day, there was held in Babylon a feast called Sacaia, 
extending over five days, wherein it was customary for the masters 
to be ruled by their slaves, and one of them, as leader of the 
household, was clothed in a robe similar to the king's; he was called 
the zoganes. The festival is mentioned also by Gtesias in the second 
book of his Persian History." 1 " On the basis of this passage the 
feast has generally been said to have a Babylonian origin; but this 
by no means follows from Berossus' phrase "in Babylon". Babylon 
was where that priestly scholar's own interests lay; but naturally 
during some two hundred years of Persian rule Persian feasts would 
have been celebrated there and have become familiar. The refer- 
ence by Gtesias to the Sacaia suggests that to him this was a 
Persian festivity, and the as yet unexplained title of zoganes has a 
possibly Iranian ring. 

Berossus describes the Sacaia as if it were a lay celebration; and 
Athenaeus sets it together with the Roman Saturnalia (when the 
children of a household waited on the slaves), and similar Greek 
festivals. Dio Ghrysostom (who lived c. 40-120 A.C.) likewise 
reports it as a lay festival, but knew it, it seems, as of a more 
primitive and savage character. He has Diogenes say to Alexander: 
'"Have you not heard of the festival of the Sacaia, which is 
celebrated by the Persians, against whom you are eager to make an 
expedition?' Alexander, who wished to know everything about the 
Persians, at once asked: 'What kind of a festival is it?' Diogenes 
replied: 'Thev take one of the prisoners who are under sentence of 
death, set him on a king's throne, give him the king's clothes and 
allow him to give orders and to drink and indulge himself and to 
consort with the king's concubines during the days of the festival, 
nobody offering any opposition to his doing anything he pleases. 
After this they strip and scourge him and then impale him."" S3 

A somewhat similar celebration, but briefer and less ruthless, 
held on the last day of the new year's feast, was noted among the 
Sogdians by a Chinese traveller in the seventh century A.C. 164 The 
feast lasted seven days; and early on the last day the winner of an 
archery contest was declared "king for a day'*, and ruled evidently 

152 Deipnosophists, XIV. 639. 

163 Orations, 4.66-7 (Clemen, Fontes, 44; Fox-Pemberton, Passages, 47). 

1S4 E. Chavannes, Documents sur les Tou-kiue (Turcs) occidentaux, Pans 1903, 
repr. 1969, 133 n. (The notice was used by Frazer in his study of "one-day kings" 
in The Golden Bough, IV. 151.) 



over the final festivities. These were presumably riotous; and 
possibly, it has been suggested, the masquerades depicted on a 
Panjikent mural took place on this occasion.' 63 A link has also been 
sought with a Sogdian custom reported by Tabari 166 : ''Each year at 
Samarqand a table was set with food and a pitcher of wine for the 
bravest knight of Soghd. If any other touched the food he thereby 
challenged the claimant to combat, and whoever killed his anta- 
gonist was acknowledged the bravest hero in the land until the 
advent of the next aspirant", i.e. he was presumably virtually 
"king" for that period. This custom seems to have had something 
of the savagery of the royal Sacaia as described by Dio Ghrysostom. 
No bloodshed is suggested at the Zela feast, which seems (like that 
recorded by Berossos) to have had more of the character of the feast 
of misrule celebrated widely during the Christmas season in me- 
dieval Christendom. This too was observed in both lay and reli- 
gious houses, with either a Lord or an Abbot of Misrule to preside 
over the topsy-turvy revelries. In the abbeys it was the lay brothers 
and servants who enjoyed the feast's licence, and this was presum- 
ably the case also at the Zela Sacaia. 

The question thus appears to be not why the Persians there 
should have kept a feast so generally celebrated, but why for them 
it should have been associated with the Sacas, and locally at least 
with Anahit. (Berossus' silence in the latter respect, together with 
Dio's, makes it probable that Strabo's statement that the feast was 
held at all Anahit's temples refers only to the regions with which he 
himself was most familiar, i.e. Pontus and Cappadocia.) The 
derivation of the name Sacaia from that of the Sacas has been 
brusquely dismissed by modern scholars as an obvious piece of 
popular etymologizing. 167 Yet it has support from Hesychios (fifth 
century A.C), who in his Lexicon defined "Sacaia" as the "Scythian 
feast" (Skythike eorte) . 16a Strabo's statement that those taking part in 
the festival at Zela dressed as Scythians also merits consideration. 
A hypothesis has accordingly been put forward on the basis that 

165 A. M. Belenickij, B. I. Marsak and V. I. Raspopova, Arxeologiceskie Raboty 
v Tadzlkistane XIV, 1979, 236-88, who describe the mural (found in the 
subsidiary" chapel of "Temple I") as showing obscene dancers, and people 
drinking, playing drums, wearing animal masks etc. For an illustration of this 
mural before cleaning (in which the details are obscured but the general crowd 
movement still appears) see Zivopis' drevnego Pjandzikenta. Moscow 1954, I'M. 

lbb W. Barthold, Turkestan down to the Mongol invasion, 3rd rd., ed. C. E. 
Bosworth, Gibb Memorial Series, n.s. V, 1968, 181-2. 

l6/ E.g. Reinach, Mith. Eupator, 242 n. 3 ("einfach Unsinn'T 

168 Cited by Reinach, I.e. 



this derivation (the only explanation of the name ever to be offered) 
is in fact sound. 169 There is good iconographic evidence that the 
Sacas held an orgiastic festival linked with the worship of their 
great goddess Artimpasa (who was "interpreted" by the Greeks as 
Aphrodite). 170 The Scythian invasions of the seventh— sixth centu- 
ries B.C. left scattered groups of Sacas behind them, in Pontus 
among other places; and Saca military colonies were established in 
Babylonia under the early Achaemenians. 171 Conceivably then 
their anarchic and merry festival came to be adopted by the 
Persians also, in general as a lay feast; but when in Pontus the 
Sacas became converted to Zoroastrianism, they themseJves 
brought the festival there into association with Anahit, another 
"Aphrodite", who thus replaced Artimpasa. If this explanation is 
sound (the scantiness of the data makes it regrettably unprovable), 
then the legend of the founding of the shrine at Zela in celebration 
of a victory over the Sacas is perhaps to be regarded as an 
etiological one. 

Strabo presents Men and Anahit and Ma all as important in the 
public life of Pontus; and the Pontic kings may be supposed to have 
paid their due devotions at the shrines of each. One of them, 
Mithradates V, an ardent hellenizerj is known also to have 
worshipped Apollo and to have made lavish gifts at Delos; 172 and 
probably he and others of his line often called on Greek gods. In 
general the likelihood seems that, whatever the personal beliefs 
were of" individual rulers, the dynasty as a whole upheld as their 
state religion a loosely blended polytheism, in which the beliefs and 
rites of each of the major groups among their subjects had apart. It 

169 -j-^jg hypothesis j 5 proposed by F. G. 

170 This festival is vividly depicted on a gold plate from the Sakhnov kurgan, 4-th 
cent. B.C., which shows the goddess enthroned, holding a vase and the mirror 
which is her distinctive attribute, among musicians and drunken revellers, see S. 
S. Bessonova, Religioznye predstavlenija Skifov, Kiev 1983, 101 fig. 25. On 
Artimpasa see Grenet, "L'Athena de Dil'-berdzin", in F. Grenet (ed.), Cultes et 
monuments religieux, 41-5 with, on the form of her name, ib., p. 44 n. 18. 

171 VI. Dandamaev in J. Harmatta (ed.), Prolegomena to the sources on the 
history ofpre-Islamic Central Asia, Budapest 1979,95-109; Ir. Ant. XVII, 1982, 

'' 2 The evidence is provided by his tetradrachms, which bear on the reverse 
what Robert has shown to be a representation of Apollo's oldest statue at Delos; 
and by an inscription at Delos, to which he evidently made a munificent donation, 
and where a statue to him was set up in 129/8 B.C. On both see Robert, 
"Monnaies et textes grecs" JdS 1978, 151-63. The tetradrachms are among the 
rare royal coins of Pontus which do not bear the star and crescent of Men. Others 
are those issued by Euergetes' aunt Laodice, sister-queen of Mithradates IV. See 
Reinach, o.c, p. 29 n. 2.; Kleiner, art. cit. in n. 132, pp. 13-14. 



further seems probable that this state religion found its chief royal 
expression in the cult of Zeus Stratios, "Zeus of the army", 173 king, 
state and army being virtually one. 

The title Zeus Stratios, never borne by Olympian Zeus, appears 
to have been given to diverse Anatolian divinities. The earliest 
known instance is in the Achaemenian period, with Zeus Stratios of 
Labraunda, an ancient Garian god superficially hellenized. 174 In 
the post- Alexander epoch the title occurs in connection with cults 
in northern Anatolia— Pontus, Paphlagonia and Bithynia. The first 
record of it then is on the lips of Eumenes, who for a few years 
governed Gappadocia and Paphlagonia. According to Plutarch, 
when in 3 16 his own soldiers handed him over to Antigonus and so 
to his death, he reproached them with invocation of "Zeus Stratios 
and the gods of oaths". 175 A piece of undatable evidence attests the 
cult of a Zeus Stratios in Bithynia, where, Arrian reports, 176 there 
stood a fine statue to such a god, the work of a native sculptor, in 
the capital Nicomedia (founded 264 B.C.). Otherwise the title's 
associations are with the Pontic heartland and with Paphlagonia. 
The chief literary attestation of the Pontic cult is provided by 
Appian in his account of the wars of Mithradates the Great. For 
this he used diverse sources, 177 and who was his authority for this 
particular passage is not known. In it he relates how in 81 B.C. 
(during the uneasy period between the First and Second Mithrada- 
tic Wars) Mithradates, having driven off a pillaging Roman army, 
celebrated his victory by sacrificing to Zeus Stratios on a mountain 
top. The traditional manner of this sacrifice, he says, was as 
follows: "A peak was crowned with a higher summit made of a pile 
of wood, which the kings themselves were the first to bring. This 
stack of wood was surrounded by a lower one, laid in a circle. 
Above would be placed milk, honey, wine, oil, and all kinds of 
aromatics; on the ground are put bread and dishes for the sacred 
meal for those attending. This kind of sacrifice had been offered 
also at Pasargadae by the kings of Persia. The heap of wood is 
kindled, it catches light, and this huge fire can be seen out to sea for 
a distance of over a thousand stadia. It is even said that the air 
becomes so hot that the place cannot be approached for many days. 

On this divinity see Cumont, "Le Zeus Stratios de Mithridate", RHR 43, 

'^Herodotus V.119; Cumont, art. cit., pp. 48-9, cf. HZ II 270. 

175 Plutarch, Eumenes, 17.4; Cumont, art. cit.. p. 49. On the incident cf. a 

„ nri 

176 jacobv, FGrH, frg. 77; Cumont, art. cit., p. 49 with n. 3. 

177 On these see Reinach, Mith. Eupator, 445-9. 






This is the sacrifice which Mithridates offered according to the rite 
of his ancestors". 178 

In itself a claim by the Mithradatids that they sacrificed in the 
manner of the Achaemenians might seem to deserve the same 
scepticism that their Achaemenian genealogy generally evokes. Yet 
there is an evident parallel with Herodotus' account of Persian 
worship in high places; and also a good deal in Appian's descrip- 
tion, imprecise as it is, which accords with both the spirit and the 
known practices of Zoroastrianism. The kindling of a fire, presu- 
mably at dusk (hence its wide visibility at sea) would be a wholly 
orthodox way to celebrate, in that faith, a victory over the forces of 
darkness — represented in this case by the Roman army; and conse- 
crating food offerings, to be eaten thereafter at a communal meal, is 
general custom, observed on all occasions of festivity and thanks- 
giving. Unless, however, some wholly heteropractic usages had 
crept in, Appian (or his source) has confused the offerings blessed 
directly by the priests during the rites of the thanksgiving service, 
i.e. milk, honey and wine, with those made to the fire, i.e. "aroma- 
tics of all kinds" and probably the oil. Oil is not used in libation to 
fire in known Zoroastrian observances, and honey is never placed 
among food offerings, being the product of a khrafstra. i79 Yet both 
are mentioned among magian offerings by Strabo also, in a passage 
where he too is relying on an unnamed source. Other details in that 
passage are demonstrably accurate, however, so that the probabil- 
ity seems that these two things became acceptable to the expatriate 
magi of Cappadocia through the influence of other religions in that 
land. 180 

Strabo's mention of them comes in his general account of magian 
acts of worship. 181 This he begins by repeating Herodotus' 

178 Roman History XII, ch. 65. 

179 Cf. above, p. 232. 

190 M. Chuvin suggests lhat the most likely local influence on the cult of Ahura 
Mazda/Zeus Stratios would have been the worship of Sandan or Sandas, the 
ancient Hittite god of power and war, who was still widely venerated in Asia 
Minor in Greco-Roman times. The Greeks equated him with Heracles, see 
Chuvin, art. cit. in n. 50, p. 319 ff. M. Chuvin refers further to E. Laroche, "Un 
syncretisme greco-anatolien, Sandas-Heracles", in Les syncretismes dans les 
religions grecque et romaine, Paris-Strasbourg 1973. 103—114; G. Huxley, "San- 
das in Cappadocia", Phflologus 1982, 315 f.; and C. P.Jones, "Tarsos in the 
Amores ascribed to Lutian", Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 25, 1984, 
1 77-8 1 (the festival of Sandan at Tarsus was called the Heracleia, and during it a 
great fire was lit in the market place as dusk fell, in honour of the god). The 
Heracles worshipped at Cybistra, on the Cilician-Cappadocian border, was 
evidently also Sandan. 

191 XV.3.13-14. 


statement 182 that "the Persians do not erect statues or altars" — a 
statement that was no longer applicable in his own day, and which 
he himself contradicted, as we have seen 183 , elsewhere in his Geogra- 
phy. He continues by citing, it seems, other written testimonies, but 
supplements these with details from his own observations. "With 
earnest prayer", he relates, "they offer sacrifice in a purified place, 
presenting the victim crowned". The "purified place" is presu- 
mably the Zoroastrian pavi; i84 and it was still the custom in tradi- 
tional Zoroastrian usage in the 1960's to tie a garland round the 
horns or neck of the sacrificial beast. 185 (Herodotus had said that it 
was the sacrificer himself who wore the crown, "of myrtle for 
choice".) Strabo continues: "And when the magus, who directs the 
sacrifice, has divided the meat the people go away with their 
shares, without setting apart a portion for the gods, for they say 
that the god requires only the soul of the victim and nothing else; 
but still, according to some writers, they place a small portion of 
the caul upon the fire". This again reflects known Zoroastrian 
observance, with the portion of caul representing the regular fat- 
offering {zaothra) to fire, madefrom each sacrifice. 186 (The fragrance 
of the sacrifice is also held to please the divine beings, 187 which 
Strabo does not mention.) 

He proceeds to describe in some detail the magians' particular 
rituals with regard to fire and water, to which, he says (again it 
would seem accurately), they especially made sacrifice. "To fire 
they offer sacrifice by adding dry wood without the bark and by 
placing fat on top of it; and then they pour oil upon it and light it 
below, not blowing with their breath, but fanning it; and those who 
blow the fire with their breath, or put anything dead or filthy upon 
it are put to death". Using dry wood stripped of its bark, 188 and not 
blowing with the breath 189 (both for purity reasons), are still part of 
traditional Zoroastrian usage, and the fat is again a zaothra to fire. 
As for putting those to death who sully fire, this has the authority of 
an Avestan passage, 190 and is more likely to have been learnt of 
from a magus than from any such actual practice. "And to water" 
Strabo continues, "they offer sacrifice by going to a lake or river or 

182 1. 1 31. 

183 Above, p. 270. 

194 Cf. HZ t 166-7. 


a5 Boyce, Stronghold, 245. 
" HZ I 153-4. 

See Boyce, Stronghold, 276 s.v. bqy-o-brang. 

lb., p. 75. 

HZ I 309. 

Vd. 8.73. 





spring where, having dug a trench leading thereto, they slaughter a 
victim, being on their guard lest any of the water near by should be 
made bloody, believing that the blood would pollute the water; and 
then, placing pieces of meat on myrtle or laurel branches, the magi 
touch them with slender wands and make incantations, pouring oil 
mixed with both milk and honey, though not into fire or water, but 
upon the ground; and they carry on their incantations for a long 
time, holding in their hands a bundle of slender myrtle wands." It 
is not possible to verify details here, since animal sacrifice to water 
has not been practised within living memory; but care for the 
purity of water is authentically Zoroastrian, and a threefold liba- 
tion, with ingredients from the animal and vegetable kingdoms, is 
standard, although this, having been consecrated, is now poured 
into the water itself. 191 Oil and honey, as already observed, are not 
offered in known Zoroastrian rites. 

"In Cappadocia" Strabo adds, 192 "the people [of the sect of the 
magi] do not sacrifice victims with a sword either, but with a kind 
of tree-trunk, beating them to death as with a cudgel". This 
Zoroastrian way of killing the sacrificial animal was, as we have 
seen 193 , termed by others to "magianize"; and it is enjoined in the 
authoritative Denkard™ 4 which thus testifies to the accuracy of 
Strabo's observation. A somewhat similar rite (in that it too 
avoided shedding the living animal's blood) was recorded by 
Herodotus of the Scythians. By their usage, he says, "the victim . . . 
stands with its forefeet shackled together; the sacrificer stands 
behind the beast, and throws it down by plucking the end of the 
rope; as the victim falls, he invokes whatever god it is to whom he 
sacrifices. Then, throwing a noose round the beast's neck, he 
thrusts in a stick and twists it and so strangles the victim". 195 Such 
practices go back, it would seem, to proto-Indo-Iranian times, for 
Strabo records of the Indians that "neither do they cut the throat of 
the victim, but strangle it, in order that it may be given to the god 
in its entirety and not mutilated"; 136 and this remained the Brah- 
manic usage at thtyqjna down to the twentieth century. 197 Club- 

191 Cf. HZ I 155 ffi 
m XV.3.15. 

193 Above, pp. 272-3. 

194 Ed. Maclan, p. 466.12; transcribed and transl. by Zaehner, Zurvan, 52 n. Cf. 
Cumont, TMMM, I 238 n.l; Benveniste, JA 1964, 55-6. 

195 IV.60. 

m XVI. 1.54. 

197 J. A. Dubois, Hindu manners, customs and ceremonies, ed. H. K. Beau- 
champ, 3rd ed., Oxford 1906 (repr. 1959), 512. 

bing the animal to death could have been for the same reason 
originally. 198 

It is evident that Strabo, an eye-witness, knew blood sacrifice as 
an integral part of Persian observance, as did Herodotus before 
him; and on this and other counts it is hardly conceivable that 
Mithradates should have held his great victory celebration without 
it, leaving the feast a meatless one. Most probably Appian did not 
refer to it because it was so much a commonplace of Greco-Roman 
and other religious rites that it had seemed to his source to need no 
special mention. These sacrifices, moreover, necessarily on a large 
scale, would have taken place away from the summit, the flesh 
being then placed presumably with the other foods to be blessed. 

The Pontic kings seem thus to have had some basis for their 
claim that their thanksgiving ceremony to Zeus Stratios was a 
traditional Persian rite, even though it appears to have undergone, 
like other Zoroastrian observances in Cappadocia, modifications in 
certain details. Mithradates is also recorded by Appian to have 
made "the customary sacrifice to Zeus Stratios" — presumably then 
petitioning for victory — when in 73 B.C., at the outset of the 
Second Mithradatic War, he was about to march into Bithynia. 199 
On that occasion, Appian states, he also offered to Poseidon a 
chariot drawn by white horses, it being cast into the sea. Herodotus 
records an offering by magi of white horses to water 200 , but then the 
sacrifice was made beside a river, with no suggestion that the 
victims were cast into it. If Poseidon were to be regarded as a 
"translation" here of Iranian Apam Napat (whose worship we 

Strabo's account of the magian rite is the earliest description of Zoroastrian 
usage, and according to it the animal was then killed solely by the club. Eznik, 
writing in the 5th cent. A.C. in Armenia, indicates that the animal was first 
stunned, then killed with a knife: "The magi . . . first sacrifice iyozen) then kill the 
animals" (Benveniste, art. cit., pp. 51-2). This is again the usage described more 
fully by the Christian Barhad Besabba, bishop of Halvan (wrote 581-604). 
According to him, "Zardust . . . said that one must on no account cut the throats 
of animals, because Hormizd is in them; but one must strike with blows of a stick 
lhe neck of an animal destined to have its throat cut, until ii loses consciousness, 
and then kill it, so that it feels no pain at all". (See Benveniste, art. cit., p. 55; 
Zaehner, o.c, p. 440, F 8). The 9th-cent. account in the Denkard, addressed to a 
Christian inquirer, Boxt-Mara, also gives as the main reason for a preliminary 
stunning "pity for the animal and in that way truly a lessening of the fear and pain 
which it has from the use of the knife" (abaxsisn T abar gosparcd ud pad-iz dn rah 
kam-bimlk ud kam-dardik i-s az jrdz.-bav.smh i kard). In relatively recent times the 
Zoroastrians of Iran abandoned the stunning, and like the Muslims around them 
simply cut the animal's throat, though still making every effort to keep its suffering 
to a minimum (see Boyce, Stronghold, 244-5}. There is no record of Parsi usage 
in this respect. 

199 O.c, XII.67. 

200 VII. 113 (cf. HZ II 167). 





have seen attested in Cappadocia 201 ), this sacrifice might be taken 
as another instance of alien influence on Zoroastrian rites; but it 
seems more likely that here Mithradates was simply sacrificing in 
Greek fashion to a Greek god. 

Even apart from this second sacrifice, it is abundantly clear from 
other evidence that Mithradates' worship of Zeus Stratios, however 
important to him, was by no means exclusive. He, like his father 
Euergetes, left monumental proof of this at Delos. There a dedica- 
tion has been found in the Serapeion set up on behalf of Mithra- 
dates in his youth, together with his brother Chrestos, to Zeus 
Ourios "Zeus of the (good) wind". 302 This god (however he is to be 
identified) was invoked at Delos in association with diverse cults, 
and was one whom the Pontic kings had clear cause to propitiate. 
Later, benefactions by Mithradates are recorded to temples dedi- 
cated to Greek gods in Amisos, Delos, Nemea and Delphi; 203 and he 
must also have continued like his forefathers to honour Anahit and 
Men and Ma at their Pontic shrines. Nevertheless, his reverence for 
Zeus Stratios appears to have been conspicuous, and has been 
linked with his setting the head of "Zeus" on a widely distributed 
series of bronze coins. These coins are unusual in not bearing the 
distinctive star and crescent of Pontus, the effigy of the king's high 
god, it is suggested, sufficing to mark them as belonging to him and 
to the state. 204 It may be this same divinity who at Amastris is 
invoked in an inscription as Zeus Strategos, protector, with Hera, 
of that city, 205 and who appears also by this name on certain of its 
coins. 21 * 

Only one literary reference is known to a sanctuary to the Pontic 
Zeus, and that is by Pliny, who writes of altars to Jupiter Stratios 
standing by ancient oaks (said to have been planted by Heracles) 
near the city of Heraclia in western Pontus 207 ; but the remains of 

Ml Above, p. 280. 

Ma Ins. Delos. 1560, see Robert, art. cit. in n. 172, p. 159 with n, 32- On Zeus 
Ourios at Delos see P. Bruneau, Recherches sur les cultes de Delos a I'epoque 
hellenistique et a I'epoque imperiale, Paris 1970, 245-6 (cited by Robert, I.e.). 

203 Reinach, Mith. Eupator, 285-6. 

201 Kleiner, art. cil., in n. 132, pp. 9-10. 

205 G. Hirschfeld, "Inschriften aus dem Norden Kleinasiens besondera aus 
Bithvnien und Paphlagonien", Sb. d. kiinig. preuss. Ak. d. Wiss. zu Berlin, 
XXXV, 1888, 876, no. 27; Cumont, art. cit. in n. 173, p. 50 n. 2. 

206 Wroth, BMC Pontus, p. 85. Kleiner, art. cit., p. 15 suggests that it may be 
Zeus Stratios who appears with Hera on the reverses of coins of Mithradates IV 
and his sister-wife Laodice, and also on those of Laodice alone; and this would 
seem to link well with the Amastris data. Others, however, interpret the male 
divinity on these royal coins as Apollo with sceptre, see Robert, art. cit., p. 156. 

207 Nat. Hist. XVI. 339; cited bv Cumont, art. cit., pp. 49-50. 

two of his cult places, identifiable by inscriptions, have been found 
in the Pontic heartland, near Amasia. 208 One was to the west of the 
old Pontic capital, by the modern village of Gel-giraz, which is 
built on a hillslope bordering a wide fertile plain. Among several 
pieces of inscribed marble found there is an altar bearing a Greek 
dedication to Zeus Stratios. Fragments of capitals and column 
shafts used in building the village mosque show that there had been 
a temple — set perhaps on a flat-topped spur of hill that dominates 
the village and can be seen from far across the plain. 

The other cult place was to the east of Amasia, near the village of 
Ebemi. This stands on fertile upland, to be reached by climbing out 
of the gorge of the Iris. Near the village there is a hill bearing a 
cluster of ancient pines, from which an immense prospect is to be 
had. The villagers regard both trees and hill as sacred, and each 
year in May still gather there to sacrifice sheep and fowls and to 
feast joyfully. The hill is a flattened cone, and its top was once 
encircled by a wall, perhaps 200 metres in diameter, of which parts 
still stand. In the centre is a mound, about 40 metres square, which 
evidently bore some kind of structure — indeed fragments of a 
cornice, and other small pieces of worked marble, could once be 
seen scattered about. The relatively small size of the mound has 
been taken to show that what stood on it was a monumental altar 
rather than a temple. That there was a temple nearby, however, is 
indicated by three Greek inscriptions, unfortunately all either very 
brief or fragmentary. One, found in the hilltop enclosure, is carved 
on a marble pedestal, and records a dedication of part of the temple 
revenues by the priest- for- life (one Cneus Claudius Philon) "of the 
god". The identity of the god is established by two other inscrip- 
tions, now in the village of Ebemi. One is carved on a little socle or 
altar, which it devotes "to Zeus Stratios" (All 2lQa[Tltp]). The 
other is on two thick blocks of marble, which together bear the ends 
of two lines of inscription, the middle block or blocks being lost. 
This inscription begins with the words "To Zeus Stratios" (All 
ZxQaTUp), and a date is preserved, corresponding to 99 A.C. Other 
surviving words show that the temple from whose walls the blocks 
presumably came was administered by two "synarchontes", and 
had "neokoroi" among its dignitaries. This temple and that at 
Gel-giraz both presumably remained, with their servants and 
estates, "sacred villages", too close to Amasia to develop economic 
importance and so gain mention by the organizers of the Roman 

208 Both were identified by Cumont, whose account of them, art. cit., p. 51 fi~., is 
the source for what follows here. 





province. They were also, presumably, younger sanctuaries than 
Zela, founded probably by one or other of the Pontic kings. It is 
strange, however, that Strabo, born at Amasia, should have made 
no mention of them ; or of any manifestations of the cult of Zeus 
Stratios, which appears to have been particularly associated with 
that city. (Further evidence for this local connection is provided by 
a votive tablet from Athens, dedicated to Zeus Stratios by four 
citizens of Amasia 209 .) It is possible, however, that his cult, as that 
of the royal god, suffered an eclipse with the downfall of the 

As to the identity of this divinity, his close links with the 
Mithradatids, the pride of those kings in their Persian origins, and 
their worship of him with avowedly Persian rites ? combine to make 
it appear that (as was assumed from the first 210 ) he is by origin 
Ahura Mazda, hellenized as his royal worshippers became hellen- 
ized, and venerated chiefly under the aspect — emphasized also by 
Darius the Great — of mighty helper in war of the armies of just (i.e. 
Persian) kings. That the Mithradatids still worshipped him as God 
and Creator — the one eternal Being — seems, however, most un- 
likely. Probably they came to perceive him as did the polytheistic 
Greeks, as god of the Persians and hence their own especial deity. 
Such a development, almost inevitable in the Hellenistic age for 
these multilingual, multicultural rulers, need not necessarily have 
so deeply affected the magi., who presumably served the cult of Zeus 
Stratios as they did that of Anahit, and for whom the discipline of 
their hereditary calling, and the maintenance of ancient rites, 
would have created something of a barrier against external influ- 

Although Strabo makes no mention of a Zeus Stratios, he follows 

209 Corp. Ins. Athen. Ill, 201, cited by Cumont, lb., p. 54 n.l. Another 
inscription from Athens (C.I. A. Ill, 141; Cumont, p. 50 n.l) was devoted to Zeus 
Stratios by two citizens of Germanicopolis, formerly Gangra, the ancient inland 
capital of Paphlagonia; but whether he is to be identified with the Pontic divinity 
cannot be known. In Roman imperial times Amasia issued coins with on the 
reverse an altar (possibly rather a fire-holder ?) crowned by leaping flames, and by 
it a tree or trees. Cumont (art. cit., p. 54) was tempted to see in this a stylized 
representation of the open-air altar at Ebemi. Moreover, a spread eagle sometimes 
appears above it (see Wroth, B.M.C. Pontus, p. Jtvii ff., and pp. 8-9 with PI. II); 
and this Cumont thought might be used here, as a symbol of Olympian Zeus, for 
Zeus Stratios. On other coins a quadriga appears instead. — Fire leaping up in a 
bushy cone from an "altar"" also appears, however, as cult-object (that is, set 
between the central pillars of a tetrastyle temple) on coins of Neocaesarea (former 
Cabeira., home of the cult of Men Pharnaku) in the reigns of Julia Domna and 
Gela, with, on the later issues, a radiate bust set above the flames, see Wroth, o.c, 
p. 33 nos, 5, 10 with PL VI. 1, 4. 

210 Reinach, Mith. Eupator, 299. 

Herodotus in stating that the Persians worshipped "Zeus" in high 
places. He makes one significant change, however, in the list of 
other divinities whom the older writer said they venerated there, 
namely the sun (kelios), moon (selene), earth, fire, water and 
winds. 211 For these Strabo has "the Sun (Helios) whom they call 
Mithres, the Moon (Selene), and Aphrodite, and fire and earth and 
winds and water". 2 ' 2 Aphrodite stands presumably for Anahit. She 
had been mentioned later in the same passage by Herodotus, with a 
curious confusion with "Mithra", 213 so that Strabo may be consid- 
ered here merely to have rearranged the data provided by his 
illustrious predecessor. His own reference to Mithra is nevertheless 
deeply interesting, both because he identifies him with the sun-god 
(a point to be considered more fully later 214 ), and because it is his 
only mention of the great yazata, whose cult was presumably 
maintained in Cappadocia, as apparently in western Anatolia, 
without temples. Brief and isolated as the reference is, it suggests 
nevertheless that Strabo knew Mithra's worship as both popular 
and prominent. 

The fact that the Pontic kings kept Mithradates, "Given by 
Mithra", as their recurrent dynastic name has led scholars to seek 
tangible evidence of Mithra' s veneration in their domains; but little 
has been found that is certain, and nothing to suggest that they 
regarded him as their patron divinity. The figures on Pontic royal 
coin issues which were once identified as his are now seen rather as 
those of Men or Perseus, both of whom are shown on occasion 
wearing ; like Mithra, the "Phrygian" cap. 215 The only Pontic city 
with a recorded tradition of worship of Mithra is Trapezus. There 
a legend tells how in the reign of Diocletian (284-305) St. Eugen of 
Trapezus destroyed a statue to Mithra on a hill that continued 
nevertheless to be known long afterwards as the "Hill of Mithra". 
An altar to the god had also stood on the hill top. 216 The origins of 
this evidently firmly established Mithra cult are obscure; but one 
thing is clear, and that is that it cannot have owed much to the 
Mithradatids, since Colchis was not made part of the kingdom of 
Pontus until the reign of Mithradates the Great. It is possible, 

311 1.131. 

2I2 XV.3.13. 

3.3 Cf. HZ II 29-30. 

2.4 Below, p, 479 ff, 
215 Kleiner, art. cit. s pp. 13-15, 

Where this altar had stood a church was built dedicated to St. John the 
Baptist, see Cumont, TMMM. I 362 <"., II 55c; "Mithra en Asie Mineurr", 
Festschrift W. H. Buckler, 71-2; Vermaseren, CIMRM, I 48 no. 14. Altar and 
church are now thought to have been on the top of the hill, not on its western side. 






however, that there were Iranians among the citizens of Trapezus 
already in Achaemenian times. It was, as we have seen, a Greek 
settlement founded by Sinope, and it maintained close relations 
with its mother city; and Sinope itself was part of the Achaemenian 
empire, and remained faithful to Darius III to the end. (Alexander 
indeed pardoned its ambassadors, taken prisoner in Darius' camp 
in 330, on the grounds that the city "is not part of the community of 
the Greeks, but is subject to the Persians". 217 ) It is quite possible, 
therefore, that under the Achaemenians Iranians had gone from 
Sinope to Trapezus and settled there. There is also the likelihood 
that trade had brought Armenians to this busy port; and the 
worship of Mithra (as a Zoroastrian yazata) had taken root in 
Armenia under the Achaemenians. 219 

After the overthrow of the kingdom of Pontus, Trapezus passed 
into Roman possession, and by imperial times had become Rome's 
chief military port on the Black Sea. As such, it struck many coins; 
and among them is a remarkable one, with on the obverse the bust 
of Alexander Severus (222-235). On the reverse is a figure on 
horseback, wearing tunic, trousers and the "Phrygian" cap, with 
before him a fire-holder or fire altar with leaping flames. To either 
side are torch-bearers, one with raised, the other with lowered 
torch. At one edge of the coin is a tree, its branches stretching 
towards the rider. A raven is flying towards him, and beneath the 
horse is a snake carrying a dish. 219 Other coins were struck with 
similar, somewhat simpler, designs; 220 and the symbols are so 
markedly those of Mithraism that it seems reasonable to suppose 
that the coins celebrate the Mysteries of Mithras, taken part in by 
Roman officers and soldiers stationed at Trapezus. 221 But the 

217 Arrian, Anabasis, HI. 24. 4— 5. I am indebted to M. Chuvin for drawing my 
attention to this passage, and to the possibility of Persian settlement in Trapezus 
in Achaemenian times. Significance has been seen in the fact that Xenophon 
(Anabasis, IV.8.22) makes no reference to any but Greeks and Colchians at 
Trapezus in 301 B.C.; but, as M. Chuvin points out, he does not speak of Persians 
at Sinope either, so that his silence in this respect has no evidential value. 

218 See most fully Russell, Zoroast nanism in Armenia, 261 fl". 

219 On this coin, now in Munich, see Cumont, TMMM, II 189-90 with fig. 12. 

220 See, e.g., Cumont, ib., p. 190, figs. 15, 16; Wroth, BMC Pontus, p. 40 no. 5 
with PI. VII.8. 

Cumont, art. cit. in n. 96, p. 63 ff. ( has traced the persistence locally of the 
myth of Mithras the cattle-stealer in a custom first noted in 1672 by J. Chardin 
(Voyage ... en Perse et autre lieux de l'Orient, Amsterdam 1711, [ 78-9) . Every 
year at the monastery of Ilori in Mingrelia, near the Colchian coast, whose church 
was dedicated to St. George, on the eve of the saint's feast-day a candidate for the 
priesthood was sent out to steal, in the name of St. George, the finest bull he could 
find. This was taken secretly into the church, to be discovered there the next 
morning by the congregation. It was then led out, killed, and the flesh distributed, 
to be eaten as devoutly as if it were the communion bread. (On Mithras the 

open-air altar on the Hill of Mithra, a notable "high place", 
appears characteristic of the worship of the Zoroastrian yazata 
rather than of Mithras, whose rites were enacted by preference in 
caves or subterranean sanctuaries. 

As for evidence of particular Zoroastrian observances by the 
Mithradatids themselves, there is virtually nothing apart from their 
rites for Zeus Stratios. In the early period of their rule (before 
Sinope became their capital) four kings had their tombs cut in the 
rocky cliff of the Iris gorge above Amasia. 222 This accords with the 
burial customs of the Achaemenian kings, and with Zoroastrian 
care for the purity of the "creations"; but rock-burial was widely 
practised in Anatolia, so that it cannot be certain that the usage 
was followed by the Pontic kings on Zoroastrian principles. Since it 
is the earlier rulers who are concerned, this may, however, have 
been the case. Another custom — that of brother-sister marriages — is 
recorded for two of the later kings, Mithradates IV and VI, the 
latter's sister-wife being also called Laodice. 223 (The queens of the 
early Mithradatids are not known.) At least one of these two 
marriages appears to have had a political motive; and since brother- 
sister marriages were contracted outside Zoroastrian circles in the 
Hellenistic age (notably by the Seleucids and Ptolemids), it cannot 
be assumed that these are instances of conscious Zoroastrian 

Attempts have been made to trace some Iranian (if not Zoroast- 
rian) elements in the romantic legends which grew up around 
Mithradates the Great. At his birth, it was said, and again when he 
assumed the crown, a comet blazed so brightly for seventy days 
that it filled a quarter of the sky and dimmed the sun's 
radiance — an omen, it seems, that he would live for seventy years, 
rule a quarter of the world, and overshadow Rome. Lightning fire is 
also said to have touched his cradle, and at another time to have 
burnt the arrows in his quiver. 224 All this has been taken to set him 
within an Iranian tradition of sacral kingship (a very dubious 
proposition), and to make him an incarnation of Mithra (a wholly 
unsupported hypothesis). 225 In fact there appears nothing distinc- 

"cat tie-stealing god" cf. below, p. 558 n. 220.) It thus seems that both Mithra, thf 
Zoroastrian yazata, and Mithras, god of the Mysteries, contributed elements to the 
cult of St. George (cf. above, p. 274—5). 
2 ™ See Magic, RR, 1072 n. 12, with bibliography. 

223 On these marriages see Reinach, Mith. Eupator, 40, 41, 42* 47, 87. 

224 For references to the sources, and for the inlerp relation, .sec Rriiucli, o.e 
pp. 42-3 with nn. 

215 Widengren, "The sacral kingship of Iran", The Sacral Kingship, Nuiricn 
Supp. Bd. IV, 1959, 248. 





tively Iranian about these tales of heavenly or miraculous happen- 
ings in connection with a great man. It has been more plausibly 
suggested that poets of the Persian Sibyl celebrated Mithradates' 
victories over Rome as among the triumphs of good over evil which 
will herald the coming of the Last Time. 226 This may very well have 
been so, but positive evidence seems lacking. However, Strabo's 
solid evidence — and less directly that of Appian — for the persis- 
tence of magian rites and beliefs in his realm receives confirmation 
later from Kirder, whose list of countries where Shabuhr's soldiers 
met co-religionists and sacred fires included an area "up to 
Colchis". 227 


The south coast of Asia Minor was cut off from the central 
plateau by the Taurus mountains, extending like a great wall from 
the upper reaches of the Euphrates westwards. Towards the pla- 
teau they sloped down fairly gently; but on the seaward side their 
flanks were steep and rugged, and rivers, rushing down, cut gorges 
too deep and wild to offer passes through the range. 

This great barrier stood between Cappadocia and the Mediterra- 
nean land of Cilicia, with only one narrow pass, the famed "Cili- 
cian Gates", allowing wheeled traffic to go between them. 228 The 
name Gilicia was given to two very different regions, distinguished 
by the Greeks as ''Rugged Cilicia" and "Level Cilicia". The former 
lay to the west, a tangled mass of mountains descending precipit- 
ously to the sea, leaving space for only a few tiny harbours. Only 
one river managed to cut its way through from the interior to the 
coast, namely the Calycadnus, which then created at its mouth a 
little alluvial plain; and on a height above this Seleucus I founded a 
polls , Seleucia-on-the-Calycadnus (modern Silifke), which was the 
one important town of Rugged Cilicia in Hellenistic times. 

To the east, the Taurus curved away from the sea, and, joining 
the Amanus range, enclosed in a great horseshoe Level Cilicia, a 
"luxuriant broad riviera" 229 , crossed by three large rivers, from east 
to west the Pyramus and Sarus, which both rose in Cappadocia and 
forced their way south, and the Cydnus, which had its source high 
in the Taurus range. Much of Level Cilicia was only a little above 
sea-level; but in the north-east was a higher plain, formed by the 

basin of the Pyramus and its tributaries. Level Cilicia was not only 
abundantly fertile, but lay on the main line of communication 
between Syria and Asia Minor, and so was of great importance 
strategically and for trade. Rich as it was, it had ancient cities, of 
which the greatest and most famous was Tarsus. This was on the 
lower Cydnus, with a fine sea-harbour close by; and the Southern 
Highway, having passed through the "Cilician Gates" (cut by a 
tributary of the Cydnus) , followed the course of that river down to 
Tarsus, and then turned eastward to traverse the lower level of the 
plain. It then crossed the Pyramus at Mopsuestia (modern Misis), 
another of Cilicia's ancient towns, and thence led over the plain of 
Issus to the "Cilician -Syrian Gates", between two spurs of the 
Amanus range, and so south to Antioch. 

Since Level Cilicia was so placed, and had such great advantages 
of soil and climate, it was naturally colonized by Persians in 
Achaemenian times. Greeks had been there before them — as on the 
Pontic coast, from the eighth-seventh centuries B.C.; and when in 
the late Achaemenian period Tarsus minted satrapal coins, one of 
these bore the characteristic Persian device of the figure in the 
winged circle, but with the figure Greek in appearance, not 
Iranian. 230 Another oriental device used there, and beloved of the 
Persians, was the lion overcoming the bull; but Perseus is also 
represented. 2 * 1 Some of these Tarsus coins have Aramaic lettering, 
and bear other less familiar devices with an apparent Iranian 
connotation, notably a cow with calf, and a ploughman in Iranian 
dress, tilling the soil. 212 Either of these designs might be taken as 
having religious symbolism for Zoroastrians, or simply as showing 
that here as elsewhere in Asia Minor Iranian colonists had estab- 
lished strong associations with the land. Another town which was 
privileged to strike coins under the Achaemenians was Soli, near 
the border with Rugged Cilicia. This had been colonized from 
Rhodes c. 700 B.C., but became so strongly pro-Persian that 
Alexander found it necessary to put in a Macedonian garrison 
there, and to impose a new constitution on the town, apparently to 
weaken the authority of its ruling class. 233 This is clearly then 
another of the regions in Asia Minor where Persians may be 

226 On this see further below, p. 396 n. 163. 

227 Above, p. 255. 

229 On Cilicia see Magie, RR, 266 ff.; Jones, Cities, 
239 Magie, RR, 270. 

191 ff. 

230 G. F. Hill, BMC Lycaonia, Isauria and Cilicia, p, 164 no. 12 with PI. 
XXIX. 1 (In the circle is a naked male torso, the head crowned with a polos, but 
holding the traditional wreath and lotus flower.) 

231 On Perseus in Cilicia in Achaemenian times see P. Chuvin, Mythologir et 
geographie dionysiaques, Rechcrches sur le poeme de Nonnos de Panopolis, Paris, in 

232 Cf. HZ II 273. 

233 Magie, RR, 273. 



expected to have acquired some fluency in Greek even before the 
Achaemenians' downfall. 

After Alexander's conquest the minting of coins in Gilicia ceased, 
and no more appear until the reign of Antiochus IV (175—164 
B.C.)- Tarsus then began to strike its own bronze coins, to be 
followed by other Gilician towns. Among the mint-controllers' 
names on the coins of Adana on the Sarus, in the first century B.C., 
is an Iranian one, Sinipates 234 , and Tarsus had a mint-controller 
named Arsaces 235 — indications that in both these cities there were 
still influential men of Iranian stock. The coin types of Tarsus then 
have, however, nothing Iranian about them, but bear among other 
devices a seated Tyche with the river Cydnus at her feet, and 
Sandan, the ancient Hittite god. 236 These types continued into 
Roman imperial times, and were joined then by most of the 
divinities of the Greek pantheon; and, unusually, on a coin of the 
time of Gordian III (238-244), Mithras appears sacrificing the 
bull. 237 Other traces survive in Level Cilicia of the Mithraic Myster- 
ies, brought there presumably by the Romans; 238 but the only 
indications of the presence of Zoroastrians are provided by a 
Christian bishop, Theodore. 239 He was born in Antioch about 350, 
and grew up there, becoming the most eminent representative of 
the Antiochene school of theology. He began to write against those 
holding other Christian views in about 383, and a decade or so later 
was made bishop of Mopsuestia in Level Cilicia. He was a prolific 
author, producing, as well as commentaries, extensive dogmatic 
and polemical works; and among the latter was a book in three 
volumes on Persian magism (Peri tes en Persidi magikes), and how this 
differed (greatly naturally to its disadvantage) from Christianity. 
This book is known only from the briefest of summaries by Photius, 

234 Alram, Nomina, p. 98, Taf 9.293. 

- 35 Hill, o.c., p. lxxxvi; Alram, I.e., with Taf. 9.294. 

236 On Sandan cf. above, nn. 50, 180. 

237 Hill, o.c, p. 213 no. 258 with PI. XXXVII. 4. 

238 Excavations at Anazarbus (one of only 2 cities of note on the upper plain of 
Level Cilicia, developed as a strategic point by the Romans) have yielded an altar 
dedicated by M. Aurelios Seleukos, ''priest and pater for life of the Sun-God, the 
uncontested' Mithras"; published by M. Gough, AS II, 1952, 131 no. 3 with PI. 
Xlla; Vermaseren, CIMRM, II p. 13 no. 27 bis. 

239 Cumont, TMMM, I 9 n. 5, cites another churchman, Basil archbishop of 
Isauria (a name extended by the Romans to Rugged Cilicia), who had his 
metropolis at Seleucia-on-the-Calycadnus for some time between 431 and 468. A 
quotation from his writings shows that he referred to pseudo-Smerdis not as magos 
but, in the idiom of his own culture, as magouseos (<magousaios); but it is impossible 
to take this as proof of personal encounters by Basil with Zoroastrians in his own 



who wrote of it as follows: 240 "In the first volume he described the 
abominable dogma of the Persians, which Zarades introduced, or 
indeed about Zourouam, whom he introduced as the originator of 
everything, whom he also calls Fortune (Tyche). And when he [i.e. 
Zourouam] was making a libation in order that Hormisdas might 
be born to him, the latter was born, together with Satan. And about 
the mixing of their blood [i.e. incest?] . And he [Theodore] 
straightforwardly refutes the impious and extremely shameful 
dogma item by item in the first volume". The other volumes were, 
it seems, devoted predominantly to Christian doctrines, all three 
being dedicated "to Mastubius, who came from Armenia and was a 
suffragan bishop". 

This link with Armenia has been seen as significant, 241 since 
Theodore's statements about "Zourouam" (yet another corruption 
of "Zurvan") have close parallels in the polemical writings against 
Zurvanism by the fifth-century Armenian Christians, Eznik of 
Kofb and Elise Vardapet. 242 All three writers have been held by 
some scholars to have shared a common manuscript source; but 
this supposition is necessary only if the myth which they record is 
thought to have had little or no circulation or acceptance among 
Zurvanites themselves. Otherwise, there is no reason why inquirers 
should not have learnt of it, orally or from books, at diverse places 
and times. Bishop Basil of Cappadocia, on his own testimony, 
spoke with Zurvanites; 243 and Bishop Theodore may well have 
done the same. A point of real doctrinal interest in what the latter 
learnt is that his source — whatever or whoever it was — identified 
Zurvan, "Time", as being also "Fortune" or "Fate", as he is 
declared to be in certain Pahlavi writings. 244 

A more generally significant fact is that Theodore's book testifies 
to the existence of a living and sturdy community of Zoroastrians 
somewhere within his own field of activity; for the bishop, a busy 
ecclesiastic, was also a tireless controversialist, who had numerous 
opponents to cross swords with within his own faith. (He has been 
termed a Nestorian before Nestorius, and his writings were post- 
humously condemned at Constantinople in 553.) It is unthinkable, 
therefore, that he should have spent time and trouble on a purely 

240 Bibh"otheca, 81; Cumont, o.c, p. 18 n. 2; BCM II 87; Clemen, Pontes, 1 0B; 
Zaehner, Zurvan, 447. 

'*' Cumont, TMMM. I 18-19. 

242 Texts in French tr. by L. Maries, Le de Deo d'Eznik de Koib. Paris 1924, 
48-52, reproduced by Zaehner, o.c, pp. 419-28. 

343 Cf. above, p. 277. 

244 Cf. Cumont, TMMM, I 86; Zaehner, o.c, pp. 59, 254. 



academic exercise, disputing with a dead or even dying religion. It 
is possible that he became aware of Zoroastrians already in Syria; 
but the strong probability is that it was encounters with adherents 
of the Persian religion in his own diocese, and his endeavours 
there — presumably fruitless, like those of Basil in Cappadocia — to 
convert them by disputation, which provoked him to write his 
treatise against them. One may also speculate reasonably that 
Zoroastrians would have been best able to survive in numbers as 
late as this on the upper plain of Level Cilicia, that is, above 
Mopsuestia, because this was an area a little apart, a rural one with 
few towns, and not heavily hellenized like the lower plain, which, 
enjoying both sea and land trade, was wide open to cosmopolitan 
influences. Yet Kirder indicates 245 that there were also Zoroastrians 
still in Tarsus in the third century A.C., where very possibly over 
centuries they had contributed their doctrines and characteristic 
ethical beliefs to the lively intellectual and philosophical life of that 


The history of Zoroastrianism in these three eastern Anatolian 
lands affords striking parallels with that of the western ones, 
suggesting a good deal of communication between their Iranian 
communities. Again the worship of Anahit is better recorded than 
that of any other yazjLta, clearly because it was a richly endowed 
temple cult; and again there is evidence for the veneration also of 
Ahura Mazda, Mithra and Vohu Manah. But here Mah too 
appears to have been popular, exalted through some assimilation, 
it seems, to Cappadocian Men. Through Strabo's testimony the 
maintenance of traditional rites by the magi is attested here, as by 
Pausanias in Lydia; and the two bishops, Basil and Theodore, 
testify that Zoroastrianism was strong and resistant to Christian 
proselytizing in certain areas, i.e. Cappadocia and the upper plain 
of Level Cilicia. It is in these rural regions presumably that the 
Iranian religion survived, despite persecution, down to at least the 
sixth century A.C. — a full millennium after Alexander's conquest. 
The witness of these churchmen also provides the only direct 
evidence about doctrine, namely that the Zoroastrianism of eastern 
Anatolia was of the Zurvanite tendency. 

See above, p. 255. 



Separated from Cilicia by the Amanus mountains and from 
Cappadocia by the Taurus lay Commagene, "rather a small 
country", 1 known of old to the Assyrians as Kummuh. To the east 
and south-east the upper Euphrates formed its boundary with 
Armenian Sophene and Mesopotamia, while to the south-west, 
beyond low hills, was Syria. Commagene had natural wealth in 
silver and iron mines, in dense forests, and in the fertile, though 
narrow, vallevs of rivers which flowed down from the Taurus to the 
Euphrates. It was also enriched by trade between Mesopotamia 
and Asia Minor, for there were relatively easy passes here over the 
Taurus and through the Amanus range; and at Samosata (modern 
Samsat) Commagene controlled one of the main crossings of the 
upper Euphrates, which may have been that used by the Royal 
Road. 2 In spite of its small size and hilly landscape it was therefore 
a prosperous place. 

Nothing is known of Commagene for the long span of time 
between Assyria's downfall and the Hellenistic age; 3 but it must 
have formed part of the Median and Achaemenian Empires, prob- 
ably receiving its first Iranian colonists under the latter. Alexander 
passed it by, and it first re-emerges into recorded history in the 
second century B.C., when it was ruled by Iranian kings from a 
branch of the Orontid family of Armenia. The first known member 
of that family is the Orontes who was satrap when Xenophon and 
the Ten Thousand marched through Armenia in 401 B.C. 4 Ac- 
cording to Strabo, he traced his descent from the Hydarnes (Old 
Persian Vidarna) who was one of the six noble companions of 
Darius the Great; 5 and the claim seems supported by the fact 

1 Strabo XVI.2.3. T _ „ , . lt ., 

2 On its aee-long role of controlling trade-routes see J. D. Hawkins, Von 
Kummuh nach Kommagene", AW 6, 1975, Sondemummer Kommagene ,W0. 

3 On the apparently Iranian name of its 8th cent, king Kundaspi see HZ 1 1 4 1 

n. 5. 

4 Anabasis, III-v,17,IV.3.*. 

5 XI. 14.15. 



(attested by Xenophon 6 and by Plutarch 7 ) that the satrap was 
married to Rhodogune, a daughter of Artaxerxes II. The link with 
Hydarnes was presumably through the female line, since in an 
inscription at Pergamum Orontes is said to have been of Bactrian 
stock. 8 His father is there named as Artasouras; and he has been 
plausibly identified with the Iranian noble of that name who 
figured at the battle of Gunaxa in 401, at which Gyrus the Younger 
was slain. Artasouras is said by Plutarch to have held the exalted 
office of "Eye of the King"; 9 and he and his son provide the only 
known instances of members of a Bactrian family attaining high 
position in the Achaemenian Empire. 10 At Gaugamela the Arme- 
nian forces were commanded by a later Orontes and a 
Mithraustes 11 — probably, it is thought, the satraps of Greater and 
Lesser Armenia respectively; and in 317 an Orontes of Armenia 
offered help to Ariarathes of Cappadocia against the Hellenes. (He 
is recorded to have sent Eumenes a letter "written in Syriac 
characters", presumably, that is. in Achaemenian chancellery 
Aramaic. 12 ) It was perhaps he who, during this troubled period of 
the Successors' Wars, extended his power over Gommagene, where 
a branch of the family managed to establish itself, although pre- 
sumably at first tributary to their Armenian kinsmen. Little is 
known of the early Orontids of Commagene, 13 but their centre of 
power lay evidently in the north-east of their small land — nearer, 
that is, to Sophene than to Syria. There a certain Arsames founded 
two towns, both of which he called Arsameia. The more northerly 
(modern Gerger, a name commonly used, for clarity's sake, for the 
ancient city also) was a defensible stronghold by the Euphrates. 
The other, a more open city, though with a citadel, was on the river 
Nymphaios (modern Kahtacay), a confluent of the Ghabinas, 
which itself flows into the Euphrates downstream from Gerger. 
Between these two towns in their fertile valleys rises the highest 

6 Anabasis, II.iv.8, III.iv.13. 

7 Artaxerxes, XXVI 1.4. 

B I.e. the so-called Pergamene Chronicle, OGIS 264.5. On him see most 
recently M.J. Osborne, "Orontes", Historia 1973/4, 515-57 (with, on his family 
pp. 517-22). ' r ' 

9 Plutarch, o.c, XII. I. 

10 F. Grenet, "L'onomastique iranienne a Ai Khanoum", BCH CVII, 1983, 
373 n. 3, who gives there, p. 372, the name's etymology, *anvand < Olr. auruvant 
"brave". (P. 373 n. 3 is to be partly corrected, he points out, in that Artasouras is 
no longer thought to figure among the ancestor-stelae at Nimrud Dagh.) 

|J Arrian III.8.5. 

J* Diodorus XIX.23; cf Russell, Zoroastrianism in Armenia, 47-8. 

On them see most recently R. D. Sullivan, "The dynasty of Commagene" 
ANRW II 8 (1977), 732-98, q.v., opp. p. 742, for a genealogical table of the 
family and its intermarriages with other royal houses. 



peak in Commagene, 2150 m. above sea-level, which in later times 
came to be called Mount Nimrud, that is, Nimrud Dagh. 

When Arsames lived is uncertain; but he issued the first of the 
scanty Commagenian coins (which are all of bronze). These bear 
on the obverse his head, showing him wearing a conical form of the 
Iranian tiara, with diadem, On the reverse is his name in Greek 
characters, with the title "king", and an illegible cognomen. 14 He 
ruled probably as a vassal of the Seleucids; but the details of the 
inclusion of Commagene in the Seleucid Empire are obscure — 
when it took place, and on what terms. In 163/162 one of his 
descendants (perhaps a son?) called Ptolemaios, revolted, evidently 
with some success, for an era dating from this year was still in use 
in Commagene on the eve of its annexation by Rome, some two 
hundred years later. 15 (His rebellion took place during the unrest 
which attended the claiming of the Seleucid throne by 
Demetrius 16 .) Ptolemaios was followed by his son Sames, who 
again struck coins. His issues show his head either radiate, in direct 
imitation of the coins of the Seleucid Antiochus VI, or wearing the 
conical tiara. 17 His name appears on his coins in the genitive, 
"Samou", and, there being no other attestations of it, the nomina- 
tive was long understood to be "Samos"; for some scholars postu- 
lated a link between it and Samosata, the Orontids' later capital. 
This town's name is mentioned, however, already in the third 
century B.C.; and so it was supposed that it was founded by an 
earlier Orontid called Samos (or rather refounded, for there had 
been a town controlling the important Euphrates crossing long 
before the Iranians came to Commagene). The son of king Ptole- 
maios was accordingly referred to as Samos II. It has now been 
suggested, however, that the Orontid's name is more likely to have 
been iC Sames", i.e. the Greek rendering of Iranian Sama 18 ; and this 
makes the similarity with the town's name look no more than 
coincidental, as other scholars had supposed. 

On his coins Sames' name is followed by the epithets Theosebes, 
Dikaios "god-fearing, just". The latter cognomen may, it is sug- 
gested, 19 have been adopted by him as a compliment to Mithradates 

M M. Alrarn, Nomina, 81-2. On this and other forms of the Iranian tiara in 
Commagenian coins and reliefs seej. H. Young, "Commagenian tiaras: roval and 
divine", AJA 68, 1964, 29-34. 

15 Sullivan, art. cit, p. 743. 

16 Cf. above, p. 33. 

17 Alrarn, o.c, p. 82. 
ia Alrarn, I.e. 

19 Sullivan, art. cit., p. 749. This interpretation seems more probable than that 
previously proposed, which was that Sames adopted the cognomen in homage to 
Mithra. (On dikaios as an epithet of thejazata see above, p. 274 with n. 91). 





II of Parthia, who likewise set it upon his coins, 20 and who, during 
the latter years of Sanies' reign, was vigorously consolidating his 
power in the lands to the east of the Euphrates. Little Commagene 
thus found itself dangerously placed between the Seleucids and the 
increasingly formidable Arsacids, and could survive only by pla- 
cating each, and "by assuring each that she offered no threat in 
looking after her well-protected bit of ground and her Euphrates 
crossings." 21 

Sames was succeeded by his son Mithradates I, who reigned 
c.lOO-c.69. His coins show him wearing the same conical tiara as 
Sames, and as having the cognomen Kallinikos, "victorious". 22 It 
is generally agreed that this by-name, as a solitary one, is likely to 
have been significant, marking perhaps some decisive battle 
through which he maintained his dynasty's independence of the 
Seleucids. 23 It also seems likely that it was in consequence of such a 
success, possibly in ratification of a peace treaty, that he received in 
marriage a Seleucid princess, Laodice Thea Philadelphos, 
daughter of Antiochus VIII (123-96). Probably by 86 Com- 
magene, together with neighbouring Sophene, Syria and Cilicia, 
was made part of the short-lived empire of Tigranes the Great of 
Armenia, so that it would have been as his vassal that Mithradates* 
son, who bore the Seleucid name of Antiochus, succeeded to the 
throne of Commagene; and this was probably in the same year, 69, 
in which Lucullus inflicted a great defeat on Tigranes, bringing 
about the disintegration of his empire. 24 Antiochus was among 
those kings who made submission to Lucullus; and when Pompey 
subsequently appeared in Syria, the Commagenian again acknowl- 
edged Rome's supremacy. In 64 Pompey destroyed Tigranes 5 
forces in a second great battle, and made Syria and Cilicia into 
Roman provinces; but he left Commagene as an independent 
kingdom, and gave it moreover a bridgehead across the Euphrates 
by assigning to it the city of Zeugma (Seleucia-on-the-Euphrates), 
which stood on the opposite bank to Samosata, and downstream 
from it, controlling another important river- crossing. His intention 
was evidently to create in Commagene a grateful client state, which 

50 Wroth, BMC Parthia, p. 35 no. 116 (who points out that dikaios does not 
recur on Parthian coins until adopted again by Mithradates III). 

21 Sullivan, I.e. 

22 Wroth, BMC Galatia, p. 104 with PI. XIV.7. On this king see O. Wilcken, 
PWXV.2, col.2213. 

23 So Dorrie. Konigskult, 15, 38-9 (who seems justified in rejecting an earlier 
interpretation of the title as won in an athletic contest). 

** Cf. above, p. 284. 

would be prepared to hold this strategic point for Rome against 

Pompey nevertheless took hostages from Antiochus, and not 
without reason, for that king sought good relations also with 
Parthia, giving a daughter, named Laodice like her grandmother, 
in marriage to the Arsacid Orodes II. Her fate was ultimately an 
unhappy one, for her husband and son, and probably Laodice 
herself, perished at the hands of her stepson Phraates IV after the 
aged Orodes resigned the Parthian throne to him in 38. 25 Antiochus 
had, just before this, aided another son of Orodes, Pacorus, when 
with Labienus the latter invaded Syria and Asia Minor in 40. 26 A 
year later Mark Antony drove the Parthians back again and 
besieged Antiochus in Samosata, mainly, it is thought, in the hope 
of acquiring riches. He was joined by Herod of Judaea, but Samo- 
sata held out, and in 38 peace was made, with Antiochus paying a 
large ransom. 27 This success against Rome, and his diverse other 
achievements, have led to his being generally known as Antiochus 
the Great. 

Little is known of Antiochus' successors beyond their names and 
scanty coinage. He was followed in about 31 by his son Mithra- 
dates II, then by Mithradates' brother Antiochus II, then by a 
grandson, Mithradates III. Then came Antiochus III, at whose 
death in 18 A.C. Germanicus annexed Commagene; but Caligula 
restored it to Antiochus 7 son {a boyhood friend), who reigned as 
Antiochus IV, with a brief interruption, from 38 to 72. Antiochus 
the Great had assumed the five-pointed "Armenian" tiara which 
was the characteristic headgear of Tigranes the Great, and which 
was adopted after his overthrow by more than one of his former 
vassals (presumably as a declaration of their having succeeded, 
locally, to his power 28 ). Coins show his son, Mithradates II, 
likewise wearing this tiara 29 ; but those of Antiochus IV present him, 
in marked contrast to his ancestors, in Greco-Roman fashion, 
bare-headed, with diadem bound about his curling locks. 30 Under 

25 Cf. Debevoise, Political History of Parthia, 120-1; J. Wagner, "Dynastic 
und Herrscherkult in Kommagene, Forschungsgeschichte und neuere Funde", 
1st. Mitt. 33, 1983, 210-12. 

26 Debevoise, ox., p. 119. 

" Plutarch, Antony, 37-51; Appian, 5.65, 76; Dion Cassius, 48.25-6, 39-41; 

23 Wagner, art. cit., pp. 201, 203. On the exact form of the "Armenian" liarasvc 
Young, art. cit., pp. 30-1; and on Antiochus 1 Coins Wroth, o.c, p. 105 with PI. 

29 Alrara, Nomina, 82. 

50 For his coins see Wroth, o.c, pp. 106-7 with Pis XIV.9, 10, XV. 1-3. 



Nero this king gave aid to the Romans against the Parthians, and 
thereafter he sent troops to fight for Rome in the Jewish War, 
Nevertheless he was deposed by Vespasian on an accusation of 
intriguing with Parthia, and Commagene was finally absorbed into 
the Roman empire, becoming part of its province of Syria. 31 

The Commagenian people and their religion 

Despite the founding of cities by the Orontids, Commagene 
remained under their rule essentially a land of villages, where a 
presumably partly Persian aristocracy dominated a scattered rural 
population. In general, native Commagenians seem to have played 
no part in the wider Hellenistic world, or in that of republican 
Rome. Whereas their neighbours, the Cilicians and Cappadocians, 
were well represented at the great mercantile centres of Athens and 
Rhodes — as traders, mercenaries, or in all too great numbers, 
slaves — no Commagenian name appears with theirs. 32 Before the 
independence of their land in the mid second century B.C. Com- 
magenians would probably have been classified as Syrians; but 
their continued absence thereafter seems to indicate a certain 
isolation of Commagene, cut off by mountain and river, even 
though it was astride major trade-routes. This unusual position has 
been seen as making its people at once conservative and yet 
receptive of a wide range of influences. 33 They were evidently hardy 
and brave; and when the Romans became masters of their land 
they were able to recruit six cohorts from among them, who served 
as auxiliaries all along the imperial frontiers. 34 The wealth and 
trade of Orontid Commagene is likely to have been concentrated in 
its few towns, in which there appears to have been a large admix- 
ture of Semites come up from the south, who would readily have 
accepted the Greco-Semitic culture spreading there from Seleucid 
Syria. 35 

There has as yet been no systematic excavation of any site in 
Commagene earlier than the Hellenistic period, and evidence for 
the older religion of the land comes only from scattered surface 

31 For the last years of the dynasty see E. Honigmann, "Kommagene , PW, 
Supp. Bd. IV (1924), cols. 984-8; and further below, pp. 350-1. 

" P. M. Fraser, "The kings of Commagene and the Greek world", Festschrift 
F. K. Corner, I 371-2. 

33 Sullivan, art. cit., p. 762. 

34 Cumont, TMMM, I 247 with n. 6; The Oriental Religions in Roman 
Paganism, Chicago 1911, repr. 1956, 112. 

ft Honigmann, art. cit., col. 989. 



finds. 3 * These attest the worship there of the Hittite great gods, and 
bear witness to the antiquity of a type of religious monument later 
set up by the Orontid Antiochus I, evidently in continuance of an 
established local tradition. One of the chief divinities was the 
Storm-god, Tarhuis, who was worshipped throughout the Hittite 
world. His veneration in Kummuh is known from free-standing 
limestone stelae (i.e. carved rectangular slabs) 37 . These bear on the 
front a representation of Tarhuis himself, and on the back and/or 
narrow side an inscription, dedicating the monument to him and 
invoking a curse on anyone who should damage it. 38 Tarhuis' chief 
sanctuary was on a hilltop by Doliche (modern Duliik), a little 
town in the south of Commagene near the Syrian border. He was 
known accordingly to Hellenes as Zeus Dolichenos, to Romans as 
Jupiter Dolichenus; and under the latter name he came to be 
worshipped far and wide throughout the Roman empire, his tem- 
ples being sometimes found near or even beside those of Mithras. 39 
Kummuh's great goddess was evidently Hittite Kupapa or Ku- 
baba (Phrygian Kubileya, Cybele to the Greeks 40 ). Hilltop sanc- 
tuaries have been discovered dedicated to her cult also. 41 One of 
these was by the village of Ancoz, on a low hill with two springs of 
water. Here later Antiochus I in his turn erected a little black 
basalt stele inscribed in Greek, like all his monuments. 42 This, 
though much damaged, still bears the beginning of his royal titles. 
Another inscription which he set up at Arsameia-on-the-Euphrates 
states that his forefathers were buried there "in the enclosure of the 
goddess of Argand" (ev fleas s AQYav8r|vf\s neQifJolon). 43 This 

36 For a map of these finds see J. D. Hawkins, "Hieroglyphic Hittite inscrip- 
tions of Commagene", AS XX, 1970, fig. 1. 

37 On these monuments see Hawkins, art. cit., pp. 100-8- 

38 The oldest of such stelae is attributed to the 9th cent. B.C. 

39 Cumont, "Dolichenus", PW IX (1903) cols. 1276-81; P. Merlat, Jupiter 
Dolichenus, Paris, 1960; M. P. Speidel, The religion of Iuppiter Dolichenus in the 
Roman army, EPRO 63, Leiden 1978; M. Horig and E. Schwertheim, Corpus 
Cultis Iovis Dolicheni, EPRO 106, Leiden 1987. 

40 On the identifications see A. Dupont-Sommer et L. Robert, La deesse de 
Hierapolis-CastabaJa, Paris 1964, 7-15; Merlat, o.c, p. 83 with n. 9. 

*' See Hawkins, art. cit., pp. 71-98. 

" F. Ft. Domer and T. Goell, Arsameia I, 30; Dorner, "Kommagene, For- 
schungsarbeiten von 1967 bis 1969", 1st. Mitt. 19/20, 1969/70, 287-8; H. Wald- 
mann, Kultreformen, 4J-4. (This author brought together almost all the 
inscriptions of Antiochus I, with Greek texts and German translations, and gave a 
list, pp. xxi— ii r of their signatures, with bibliography. His theory thai some of 
these inscriptions should be assigned to Antiochus' father, Mithradates Kallini- 
kos, was disproved by the subsequent discovery of the Sofraz K.6y stele, see below, 
A list of Antiochus' inscriptions, including Sofraz K6y. is also given by Wagner, 
art. cit. in n. 25, p. 180 n. 9.) 

43 G[erger] 49-50. 



divinity is otherwise unknown, presumably a local one whose 
protection the Orontids seem thus to have sought. 

The religion of the early Orontids and of the young Antiochus 

The evidence concerning other expatriate Iranian dynasties 
nevertheless leads one to expect that the Orontids would have held 
in the main to their own ancestral religion, since (apart from any 
spiritual or moral considerations) this was bound up with their 
ethnic identity, and with their tradition, come down from 
Achaemenian times, of belonging to a ruling people, with its own 
distinctive faith. There is, moreover, the collateral testimony of the 
Zoroastrianism of their close cousins, the Orontids of Armenia. 44 

The Seleucids must, however, when they were ruling Com- 
magene, have introduced there the worship of Greek gods; and 
when Mithradates Kallinikos married a Seleucid princess, this 
worship was brought directly into the Orontid family. So here once 
again, as in Pontus, there was a royal house which owed loyalty to 
both the Persian and Greek religions, as well as having a pragmatic 
and probably also sincere respect for the cults of local divinities. 

There is no direct evidence, however, for the religious practices 
(let alone convictions) of any of the Commagenian Orontids before 
Antiochus I, apart from the fact that they had a family burial place 
of some kind (no tombs have yet been found) at Gerger, and that 
Mithradates Kallinikos broke with this tradition by building him- 
self a solitary mausoleum at the other Arsameia, on the 
Nymphaios. 45 This mausoleum was built on the flat-topped hill — 
the Eski Kale or "Old Citadel" — above the town. To lay the body 
of a king in a man-made tomb m a high place is a practice 
well-attested — though only from literary sources 46 — among the 
Parthians and Sasanians, so that this act of his can be said to be at 
least concordant with known Zoroastrian usage of Hellenistic and 
Roman times; but the mausoleum itself appears, from its excavated 
ruins, to have been Greek in both design and details, the tomb- 
chamber being approached through a small propylon or entry hall 
with decorative mosaic floor. Further to the west along the same 
hill Mithradates built himself a palace, also in Hellenistic style, 
where more mosaics (echoing in their designs others from Perga- 
mutn), and the remains of ceramics and of amphora from Rhodes, 

44 Cf. above, p. 284; and Russell, o.c, in n. 12, pp. 48, 51 ff. 

45 See in detail Dorner-Goell, Arsameia I; W. Hoepfner, Arsameia II. 

46 For some of this evidence see S 
Appendix III, 154-7. 

Shahbazi, Irano-Lycian Monuments, 



all testify to contacts with distant parts of the Greek world. 47 It thus 
seems that this Commagenian king, his independence established, 
used his wealth — encouraged doubtless by his queen Laodice— to 
patronise Greek craftsmen and to enjoy the luxuries and elegances 
of contemporary Hellenism. 

His son Antiochus was evidently brought up accordingly, like the 
princes of Pontus before him, to be a citizen of the Hellenistic 
world; and one concept which he adopted whole-heartedly from 
Hellenism was belief in the divinity of kings. He combined this with 
what has been termed "ceremonious piety" 48 , and sought with 
quite unusual energy and lavishness to link his own cult as ruler 
with well-regulated worship of the gods, conducted at sacred 
enclosures or temene which he created far and wide across his realm. 
Each temenos was marked by stelae, nearly always of black basalt, 
like the little one at Ancoz; and these, like the stelae of Tarhuis 
(which evidently still stood at that god's sanctuaries, serving as 
models) were regularly carved with figures on the front and an 
inscription on the back and sometimes the sides. Yet though in 
choosing this type of monument Antiochus was adopting a local 
tradition, the scene which he had regularly depicted there has no 
known Commagenian antecedents: it shows two figures — 
Antiochus himself and a divinity — engaged in dexiosis, i.e. the 
clasping of right hands. This hand-clasp was significant both for 
Iranians and for Greeks and Romans, as a gesture used to ratify an 
oath or pact, and also as one expressing confidence or friendship. 49 
Nowhere else, however, in the Hellenistic world is it portrayed as 
often or as prominently as in Commagene, where Antiochus has 
himself shown thus at almost all sacred places. It seems note- 
worthy, therefore, that a variant of this greeting is used constantly 
in the priestly rites of Zoroastrianism, and very frequently also in 
its lay devotional practices. In this variant, instead of clasping 

17 See in detail Hoepfner, o.c, with photographs of mosaic fragments, Taf. fib, 7 

48 Young, art. cit. in n. 14, p. 33. 

19 On it as an act with religious symbolism for the Persians and Parthians see 
J. Wolski, "Arsakiden und Sasaniden", Festschrift F. Altheim, ed. R. Stiehl and 
H. E. Stier, I, 320-1 (citing Plutarch, Antony, XXXVII. 2, Alexander, XXX.4). 
On its use and significance in Greco-Roman iconography see M. Le Glay, "La 
6e^lCJOlc, dans les mysteres de Mithra" in £t. mithriaques, 279-303; and in the 
Mithraic Mysteries Cumont. "The Dura Mithraeum" in MSt. I, 196-8, I;. 1). 
Francis, "Mithraic graffiti from Dura-Europos", ib., pp. 438-9. — Two divine 
beings are shown in dexiosis on bronze coins of Seleucia-on- die-Tigris under 
Demetrius II and Mithradates II (Le Rider, Suse, issue no, 322, see pp. 152-3. 
294). These are identified by F. G. as Bel-Marduk and Ishtar, who are frequently 
honoured at that city. 



hands each person Cakes a hand of the other between both of his 
own, placed palm to palm. At the same time (when this act is 
performed outside the priestly rituals) a formula is uttered in 
Middle Persian: "May we be of one strength, one righteousness!" 
(kamdzoT hama aso bem), from which the gesture itself takes its name, 
the hamazor.™ The hamazor is also sometimes exchanged (in Iran at 
least) with a simple clasp of the right hands. The importance of the 
gesture in Zoroastrianism, and of the dexiosis in Commageniau 
iconography, makes it seem not improbable, therefore, that there 
was a link between the two, and that in presenting himself re- 
peatedly in dexiosis with one or other of the gods Antiochus was 
drawing on the ritual awareness of his fellow-Iranians, declaring 
himself, that is, by this handclasp to be of one strength, one 
righteousness with the gods themselves, a truly divine king. To his 
other subjects too he would have been showing himself, though in a 
less significant fashion, to be in trustful and close relationship with 
the gods whom he worshipped. 

Perhaps already as crown prince Antiochus had nurtured plans 
for creating holy places that would foster his own cult and honour 
the gods; for he seems to have begun establishing them very soon 
after succeeding to the throne. More than thirty of his various 
sanctuaries are now known; but in the case of the temene, most of the 
stelae which attest their existence are broken or badly weathered. 
One, however, which belonged evidently to an early temenos, sur- 
vives in good condition, having been dug up from what was 
perhaps an old well on a hill by the village of Sofraz Koy. 31 This 
village lies outside the main area of Antiochus' known foundations, 
being south of the river Singas (modern Goksu), a tributary of the 
Euphrates which joins it downstream from the Chabinas. The stele 
bears a well-preserved relief and an almost undamaged inscription; 
and the relatively few gaps in its text can almost all be supplied 
from another stele whose original site is unknown, but which is now 
at Adiyaman, a town between the Singas and Chabinas rivers. 59 
The importance of the similarity of the two inscriptions, in both 

Priests exchange the greeting between themselves, silently, during religious 
ceremonies; and in traditional usage (still maintained in Iran) the laity perform 
the at the end of every afnnagan service. Formerly it was also generally 
exchanged at No Ruz. For details see Modi, CC, 378-83; Boyce, Stronghold. 
43-4, 54-5; Sources, 59. 

31 This stele was discovered only in 1972. On it see J. Wagner, art. cit. in n. 25, 
pp. 192-200; Wagner and G. Petzl, "Eine neue Temenos-Stele des Konigs 
Antiochos I von Kommagene", ZPE 20, 1976, 201-23. 

52 Doraer-Naumann, Forschungen in Kommagene, 51 f.; Waldmann, o.c., pp. 
5—9, Taf. X. (A number of antiquities have been collected at Adiyaman.) 



content and style, is that together they bear witness to the early 
standardization of the cult established by Antiochus. 

The relief on the Sofraz Koy stele shows Antiochus exchanging 
the dexiosis with Apollo, who appears as sun-god with rays and 
nimbus around his head. 53 He is naked in the Greek manner, with a 
cloak cast loosely over his shoulders. On his head is a laurel wreath, 
and he holds a twig of laurel in his left hand. The accompanying 
inscription declares that the temenos was dedicated to him as Apollo 
Epekoos, the "Hearkener", and to his sister Artemis, here given the 
by-name Dictynna, "Of the nets". Dictynna was a Cretan goddess 
of fertility and abundance, who acquired her name through the 
myth that she once cast herself into the sea off Crete, and was 
caught in fishermen's nets; but classical writers came to associate 
her with the chase. She was identified with Artemis, and her cult 
spread widely in Hellenistic times. Antiochus presumably learnt to 
worship this goddess, with Apollo, from his mother; for that 
queen's distant forbear, the Seleucid Antiochus III, greatly ho- 
noured Dictynna and the Cretan Zeus, appointing high priests for 
them both, and thus giving their cults royal recognition. 54 On the 
Adiyaman stele the relief is badly damaged, with only the feet of 
god and king remaining; but as those of the god are bare, and there 
is no trace of the trailing lionskin of Heracles (the other naked god 
of the Commagenian sculptures), the dexiosis there too was presum- 
ably between Antiochus and Apollo. 55 

Two other inscriptions which likewise appear to be from Antio- 
chus' early years again show him venerating Apollo and Artemis. 
One is on yet another basalt stele, found at Kilafik Hiiyiik on the 
east bank of the Singas, but brought there, it is thought, from some 
other place. 56 This had probably been a solitary stone, raised 

M Wagner, art. cit. in n. 25, Abb. 77; Wagner- Petzel, art. cit., Taf. Villa. The 
photograph is reproduced by J. Duchesne-Guillemin, "Iran und Griechenland in 
der Kommagene", Xenia (Konstanzer Althisiorische Vortrage und Forschungen) 
XII, 1984, 27. (For the English text of this article see in Et. mithriaques, 187—99). 

54 The evidence for this comes from 2 decrees from Amyzon in Garia, dated 202 
and 201 B.C., see J. el L. Robert, Fouilles d'Amyzon, inscr. nos. 14, 15. (I am 
indebted to M. Chuvin for drawing my attention to these.) The authors (pp. 
165—6) stress the close links between Caria and Crete, but add: "It remains a 
question why Antiochus III, in conquering western Caria, should have chosen to 
take these divinities to be given an especial high priest, thus transforming a local 
cult into an official royal one"; and they refer (n. 30) to the Sofraz Koy inscription 
and the Seleucid influence behind it. — On Dictynna see further E. Kirsten, "New 
light on Artemis Dictynna", Actes du IVe Congres international deludes 
cretoises, 1976, I, 1980, 261-70 (referred to by Robert, "Bull. en. ', REG 1983, 

" Waldmann, o.c, pp. 8-9. 

Dorner-Naumann, o.c, pp. 43—7 with Taf. 5; Waldmann, o.c , pp. 48-9. 





conspicuously by Antiochus to honour Apollo (invoked here with 
no qualifying epithet) in gratitude for what he thought were partic- 
ular favours shown him by that god. The other inscription is from 
far-away Ephesus, and was dedicated to Antiochus by the people of 
that city, who honoured him for goodness and benevolence to them, 
and for being piously disposed towards "the god", i.e. Ephesian 
Artemis, to whose temple he had presumably made a donation. 57 

In addition, there is archaeological evidence to suggest that the 
worship of Apollo and Artemis was firmly established, probably by 
Antiochus, in the heartland of Orontid Commagene. On Direk 
Kale, a hill to the north of Nimrud Dagh and clearly visible from 
there, a temenos has been found, datable to the first century B.C., 
since it was made of stones from the same quarry that was used for 
the Nimrud Dagh monuments. This temenos, it is thought, is to be 
associated with a temple built in the valley below in Roman times, 
which has yielded inscriptions from the second century A.C. to 
Apollo Epekoos, and two round altars from the same period bear- 
ing busts of Apollo and Artemis. 5a 

From these inscriptions and monuments it has been deduced 
that in his early days Antiochus worshipped Greek gods only, and 
that his later honouring of "strange" Iranian ones was no more 
than tacked on in an exploitive form of syncretism. 59 This line of 
interpretation goes back to the first studies of Commagenian monu- 
ments, when the Persian element was seen as finery only, used to 
bedeck basic Greco-Chaldean ones. 60 Even without some of the 
subsequently discovered evidence, such assumptions would seem 
improbable, given the declared pride of the Orontids in their 
Persian heritage, and the known Zoroastrianism of their cousins 
and contemporaries, the Orontids of Sophene. What is much more 
likely is that Antiochus, the first of his line to be of mixed Iranian 
and Macedonian blood, felt able, like the kings of Pontus, to 
venerate both his paternal and maternal gods, and that it is simple 
chance which has provided evidence for his early veneration of the 
latter exclusively. The Sofraz Koy relief itself shows the king as 
wholly Iranian in his outward seeming, with tiara, tunic and 
trousers; though (as was to be customary in his dexiosis reliefs) his 
tiara is ornamented with the badge of the divinity whom he greets, 
in this case Apollo's laurel leaves. 51 

57 OGIS 405; Fraser, art cit. in n. 32, pp. 359-60. 

5B Wagner, art. cit. in n. 25, pp. 1S4-5. 

53 So Dome, Kdnigskull, 193. 

50 PuchsLein in Hnmann-Puchstein, Reisen, 343. 

61 Wagner- Petal, art. cit, p. 306 with n. 13; and generally on the king's costume 

The evidence for the inscription of Sofraz Koy being early is 
multiple. Thus although Antiochus is shown wearing the ''Arme- 
nian" liara, which he probably assumed in 69/68, his royal titles 
lack one which he adopted later. He is described here only, though 
magnificently enough, as "king, god (tfuos), just (dikaios), manifest 
(epipkanes) } friend to the Romans and to the Hellenes"; of these 
titles dikaios had been taken by his grandfather Sames, while theos 
and epiphanes recur among the Seleucids, both lines of his ancestry 
being thus recognized. 62 What is lacking is the magniloquent 
"great'* (megas), which, it is thought, he is likely to have added after 
he acquired Zeugma in 64, and with it a position of increased 
wealth and strategic importance- Further, in true Persian fashion, 
Antiochus makes no mention in this inscription of his mother 
Laodice, whereas in later ones he regularly names her after his 
father, with all her own titles. Finally, the text here, like that at 
Adiyaman, is composed in a simple style, which contrasts with the 
elaborate "elevated" language of his later inscriptions. The content 
of these texts will be discussed below, in connection with Antio- 
chus' subsequent religious foundations. 

Antiochus' new cult 

Only a few years after he had erected the stelae from Sofraz Koy 
and Adiyaman, Antiochus was provided by astrologer-priests with 
a horoscope that furnished the basis for a new cult which was 
peculiarly his own, but which, as their king, he wished his subjects 
to join with him in celebrating. During the rest of his life — that is, 
for over another quarter of a century — he spent lavishly in creating 
the central shrine of this cult, which was to be both its chief 
sanctuary and his own burial place. This shrine he set, at vast 
expense of wealth and man-power, on the very summit of Nimrud 
Dagh, that is, between the burial-places of his ancestors at the two 
Arsameias and towering heavenward above them. 63 

and insignia J. H. Young, "Skulpturen aus Arsameia am Nymphaios", in 
Dorner-Goell, Arsameia I, 197-227, and especially on the emblems shared 
between king and gods, p. 218 IF. 

62 Dome, ox., pp. 29-30. 

* 3 On this sanctuary see Humann-Puchstein, Reisen, 255-372; and for later 
excavations (on which the final publication by Dorner-Goell is awaited) T. Goell, 
"The excavation of the 'hierothesion' of Antiochus I of Commagene on Nemrud 
Dagh (1955-1956)", BASOR 147, 1957, 4-22. Humann-Puchstein ; o.c, Taf. 
XIX, show Nimrud Dagh from the valley of the Nymphaios; and Taf. XXI, XXII 
give general views of the tumulus and terraces. For fine aerial photographs of the 
tumulus and east terrace see Waldmann, Kultreformen, Taf. XI11; Dorner, 
Gotterthrone nnd Konigsgraben, Abb. 34; Merkelbach, Mithras, Abb. 1 (and cf. 
Abb. 3). 





In the main inscription there (which is given the signature "N") 
the Nimrud Dagh complex is called a hierothesion. m This word, 
meaning, it seems, something like "tomb-sanctuary", is unknown 
in Greek outside Commagene, and was perhaps coined for this 
particular and unique shrine. At its centre, on the mountain's peak, 
a vast tumulus was piled up, and covered over with a"deep layer of 
gravel. Within this the actual tomb-chamber remains to this day 
undiscovered. The tumulus, which despite centuries of weathering 
is still over 50 m. high, was encircled by a retaining wall of stone, 
whose broad top provided a processional way between three great 
terraces which flanked it. The terrace on the north side remained 
unfinished; but those on the east and west were richly furnished 
with monuments, and matched each other as exactly as the 
mountain slopes permitted, apart from there being a huge altar on 
the east terrace alone. This terrace was the first to be made, and 
was evidently the chief place of worship, where rituals could be 
conducted in the full light of the morning sun. All the monuments 
have been damaged, by weather, earthquakes and the hand of man, 
those of the east terrace having suffered most; but archaeologists 
have succeeded in reconstructing the original plan even there. On 
its highest level were "the most awesome of the sculptured 
remains", 65 five colossal enthroned figures, 7 to 8 metres high, 
flanked on each side by a huge eagle and lion. 55 These colossi have 
their backs to the tumulus and gaze out over the terrace beneath, to 
receive the worship offered there; and they were evidently the first 
of the sculptures to be carved, for they were made from the 
limestone chiselled out of the mountainside to form the terraces. 67 
One of the figures represents Antiochus himself; and below them 
was a line of dexi os is- reliefs, showing the king greeting each of the 
four divinities thus enthroned beside him. Before each of these 
reliefs was an altar for offerings. The main inscription runs along 
the backs of the colossi's thrones; 68 and in it Antiochus declares: "I 
chose to consecrate this place as a sacred seat for all the gods to 
share, so that there may be not only this heroic band of my 

6+ N36, 126, 130. 

65 J. H. Young, art. cit. in n. 14, p. 32. 

66 Humann-Puchstein, o.c,, Taf. XXIII-XXVII, XXIX-XXXI; Wald- 
mann, o.c, Taf. XIV-XV.l, XVI-XX. 

6 ' Young in Dorner-Goell, Arsameia I, 226. 

Photograph, Humann-Puchstein, o.c, Taf. XXVIII. 2. This inscription is 
found on both east and west terraces. See Humann-Puchstein, o.c, pp. 262-78. 
Improved readings by Dorner in Dorner-Goell, Arsameia I, 54-6 are incorpo- 
rated by Waldmann, o.c, pp. 63-77. On the placing of the inscription see below, 
p. 343. 

ancestors which you see established by my care, but also the divine 
semblance of manifest deities sanctified on a holy summit, and so 
that this spot may be a witness that shall not fail to tell of my piety. 
Wherefore, as you see, I have set up these divine images {agalmaia) 
of Zeus Oromasdes and of Apollo Mithra Helios Hermes and of 
Artagnes Heracles Ares and also of my all-nourishing homeland 
Commagene. And from the same stone, throned likewise among the 
gracious daemons, I have consecrated the features of my own form, 
and thus admitted a new Tyche to share in the ancient honours of 
the great gods". 59 In the line of "manifest deities" thus portrayed 
Zeus-Oromasdes is in the centre, with Apollo-Mithra-Helios- 
Hermes on his immediate right (as viewed by worshippers), and 
Artagnes-Heracles-Ares to the right of him. Immediately to the left 
of the supreme god is Commagene, and to her left — that is, in the 
humblest of these exalted positions — sits King Antiochus. 70 

The concept of the king's Tyche, thus elevated, has been much 
discussed, with attempts made to interpret it in strictly Zoroastrian 
terms; but the observation seems just that "in view of the admix- 
ture of Greek ideas it is perhaps impossible to determine the precise 
Persian equivalent : Antiochus means something like Hvareno or 
Fravashi or 6ai|A0>v". 71 As to the gods concerned, the key to their 
grouping and the combinations of their names, as well as to 
Antiochus' own elevation among them, is provided by a fifth relief 
beside the four dexiosis ones. This, which has been considered the 
strangest and most impressive of all the sanctuary's sculptures, 72 
shows a lion, larger than life-size, who stands turning towards the 
viewer his chest and head, framed in a thick wavy mane. 73 On his 
body, in the curve of his tail-tip, and by his forepaws are nineteen 
stars, the number then assigned by Babylonian astronomers to the 
zodiacal sign Leo; across his chest, like a torque, is a crescent 
moon, with above it Regulus, the chief star of Leo; and above his 
back are three large stars, named in Greek as those of Zeus, Apollo 
and Heracles — i.e. the planets known to the Romans as Jupiter, 

69 N 59-63. The last lines of the English tr. above are those of F. C. Grant, 
Hellenistic Religions, New York 1953, 22 (quoted by Young, art. cit. in n. 14, 
p. 34). 

70 The correct order of the colossi could not be established by Humann and 
Puchstein, because of the damage which the statues have suffered. 

71 A. D. Nock, OTJwotog 6eos, Harvard Philological Studies 41, 1930, 26. 

72 Puchstein in Humann-Puchstein, o.c, p. 345. 

73 Photographed from the better- preserved exemplar on the west terrace, 
Humann-Puchstein, o.c, Taf. XL, and often reproduced, e.g. Waldmann, o.c. ? 
Taf XV.2; Cumont, TMMM, II 188 fig. 8; Merkelbach, Mithras, Abb. 13. 





Mercury and Mars. 74 The horoscope thus represented is inter- 
preted as marking a time when all these three planets, and the 
moon, passed by Regulus (Greek Basiliskos), held to be the star 
under which kings were born. The central date for such conjunc- 
tions has been calculated as 7 July 62. 7;> The great significance of 
this stellar event for King Antiochus was evidently that the planets 
concerned could, with priestly learning and ingenuity, be linked 
with gods much venerated by the king, while Regulus could be 
interpreted as his own celestial representative. Revered divinities 
thus appeared, through heavenly conjunctions, to be offering 
divine greetings to Antiochus, exalting him above all other 
mortals. 76 It was evidently only possible, however, to associate with 
the horoscope all the gods particularly worshipped by the Perso- 
Macedonian king by deliberate syncretism — a true syncretism that 
went beyond the standard "translation" of Iranian divine names 
by Greek ones, and sought to fuse the concepts of Greek and 
Iranian gods into a single deity, the object of a unified cult, with 
one invocation, statue and altar. The basis for this development 
was provided by beliefs about the planets concerned, since both 
Iranians and Greeks had followed Babylonian example in associat- 
ing every planet with a god or gods. 

Here matters were simpler on the Iranian side, since the Iranian 
priestly astronomers named each planet for a single divinity. In one 
case this was true of the Greeks also, so that the syncretism of 
Ahura Mazda and Olympian Zeus was straightforward. But 
whereas the Iranians knew Mars simply as the planet of Vere- 
thraghna, the Greeks assigned it either to Heracles or to Ares. 
Heracles was evidently worshipped by Antiochus himself, while the 
name Ares was given in Seleucid Syria to several local warlike 
gods. 77 Accordingly there were three names for the divinity of Mars 
in the new cult : "Artagnes-Heracles-Ares". 

With regard to the planet Mercury, matters were still more 
complex. For Iranians this planet belonged to Tiri (who was much 
worshipped, at least in Sasanian times, in neighbouring 
Armenia 78 ), while the Greeks assigned it either to Apollo or to 

74 Puchstein, o.c, p. 329 n. I; see in more detail below, p. 536 with n. 140. 

' 5 See O. Neugebauer and H. H. van Hoesen, Greek horoscopes, 14—16. A few 
days before 7.7.62 Mars passed Regulus; on 5 or 6.7 Mercury reached his closest 
approach to Regulus; on 7.7 the moon passed by Regulus; and finally, a few days 
later, Jupiter moved by Regulus. 

76 On the lion-horoscope and the king's star see further Dome, Konigskult, 
205; Waldmann, Kultreformen, 151-2. 

77 Seyrig, Syria XLVII, 1970, 110 ff. 

78 Cf. HZ II 33; Russell. Zoroastrianism in Armenia, 575 s.v. Tir. 

Hermes. It seems very possible, therefore, that Antiochus' magi 
first proposed a syncretism Tiri-Apollo-Hermes (on the same pat- 
tern as that of Artagnes-Heracles-Ares). But the king was evidently 
deeply devoted to Mithra, most probably as his patron yaiata^ 
and so presumably it was necessary to bring the great Ahura into 
the new cult. In stellar terms this was impossible, since Mithra's 
planet, the sun, was distant at the time of the conjunction of the 
other four planets with Regulus; but on the level of the "transla- 
tion" of Iranian by Greek divine names there was no difficulty in 
simply replacing Tiri by Mithra, since Mithra and Apollo were 
regularly equated. This was mainly, it seems, because both were 
solar divinities; 80 and presumably Tor this reason Helios was intro- 
duced into the Nimrud Dagh syncretism, thus making plain the 
basis for their link with each other, and with Hermes— for there is 
evidence that in ancient Semitic astrology the planet Mercury was 
itself known as the "star of the sun". 81 So, although Tiri had been 
ousted, the fourfold syncretism still had its association, through 
these two Greek gods, with the horoscope. 

There is a small piece of evidence that seems to support this 
hypothesis. At Arsameia, at the foot of the processional way which 
Antiochus built to lead up to his father's tomb, he erected an 
unusually large stele, showing himself in dexiosis with a god in 
Iranian dress; 82 and the text on the back includes the statement 
that he has appointed a priest "for Mithra Helios Apollo Hermes, 
who shall serve this god". 83 These names appear in the same order 
on a smaller stele set up beside this one, which likewise bears on the 
front a dexiosis scene of the king and god; 84 but here in the inscrip- 
tion on the back a space is left between the second and third names, 
which thus appear as "Mithra Helios Apollo Hermes". The order 
and setting out of the names here seem designed to bring out the 

79 It is standard practice in traditional Zoroastrianism for individuals to look to 
a particular yazata as their personal patron (in much the same way as many 
Christians look to a patron saint), directing prayers and petitions especially to 
him and seeking his protection and favour. See J. J. Modi (ed. and tr.), I he 
Persian Farziat Nameh . . . of Dastur Darab Pahlan, Bombay 1924, 3.27-30/4- 

80 See further below, p. 479 ff. 

81 G, Hoffmann apud Humann-Puchstein, ox.,p. 329 n. 1, citing the Hebrew 
name given by Biruni, Chronology of ancient nations, 172. 

92 At Sockelanlage II. See Young in Domer-Goell, Arsameia I, pp. I99-2U2 
with Abb 28 and Taf. 18 52b, c; Waldmann, Kultreformen, Taf. XXX; Dorner, 
"Mithras in Kommagene", fit. mithriaques, 123 ff. with Pis. III-V; Merkelbach, 
Mithras, Abb. 5. 

81 As 73-9. Text in Domer-Goell, o.c, p. 45 ff.; Waldmann, o.c, p. 102 tt. 

w At 12-13. On this stele see Dorner-Goell, ox., p. 96 ff; Young, ib., p. 208 f.; 
Waldmann, o.c, p. 109. 



fact that Mithra's proper link was with the sun, and that it was 
through the sun, Helios, that he was associated with Apollo and his 
companion, Hermes, and hence with Mercury. It therefore appears 
significant that the relief on the large stele is judged (from details of 
workmanship and the god's apparel) to be early 85 — earlier than the 
Apollo-Mithra dexiosis at Nimrud Dagh, perhaps earlier even than 
the colossi there, certainly made long before the carving of the great 
inscription on the backs of their thrones. 36 It seems very possible 
that this was the order of names first chosen by Antiochus' priests 
for the Mercury divinity, and that it was altered thereafter at 
Nimrud Dagh, the centre of the new cult, because the king's 
devotion to Apollo did not allow of that god's continuing to occupy 
third place in invocations. In the rearrangement Mithra's name 
was kept beside that of Helios, and this brought Apollo's to stand 
first. This change does not seem, however, to have been made by 
the priests at Arsameia, because the little stele there, still dedicated 
to "Mithra Helios Apollo Hermes", is judged on stylistic grounds 
to be relatively late. 87 

Another factor which presumably further enabled the Commage- 
nian magi to replace Tiri, lord of the planet Mercury, by Mithra, 
Lord of the sun, was that in Seleucid times Apollo, Mithra's regular 
counterpart, was identified (for a variety of possible reasons) with 
Babylonian Nabu, lord of Mercury, who for Iranians was the 
counterpart of Tiri; and this was the basis, it has been argued, on 
which, in western fringes of the Zoroastrian world, Mithra and Tiri 
were themselves sometimes associated locally in Greco-Roman 
times, perhaps even identified with one another. 88 

On the date 

pp. 225 

of this i 

nscription see below, p. 343. 

Whereas on the large siele Mithra "is in his conception and proportions 
(which make no concession to naturalism) an Oriental work, and awakes thereby 
an impression of power and strength", on the little one his representation is more 
graceful and hellenized (Young, o.c., p. 220). This accords with a general 
development at Nimrud Dagh and Arsameia of an art blended of Greek and 
Oriental elements, in which the latter predominated at first, but which became 
strikingly more hellenized as time went on. This is well demonstrated by differ- 
ences between the sculptures of the east and west terraces at Nimrud Dagh. 

P. Bernard, "Vicissitudes au gre de I'histoire d'une statuette en bronze 
d'Heracles entre Seleucie du Tigre et la Mesene", JdS (forthcoming). [That Tiri 
was awkwardly adopted into Zoroastrianism already in the Achaemenian period 
is shown by various Middle Iranian forms of the Zoroasiri&n calendar. But 
Professor Beck has convinced the writer that the Iranians are most unlikely to 
have known of the existence of the planet Mercury before they were taught of it by 
the Babylonians, it being so difficult to observe. She would accordingly modify the 
theory put forward in HZ II 32-3 to the extent of postulating chat, having learnt 
of this luminary from Babylonian astrologers, Persian magi then coined their own 
name for it, and adopted with its veneration elements of the cult of its guardian 
divinity, great Nabu] 



As for the fourth planet of the horoscope, the moon, this, con- 
nected through its waxing each month with seed-sowing and fertil- 
ity, must, it seems, have had for corresponding divinity the spirit of 
Antiochus' "all-nourishing homeland", Commagene. For Greeks 
(but not for Iranians) the moon was female; and this being is the 
only one of the colossi to be presented in Greek and not Iranian 
guise, as a cornucopia-carrying Tyche. Antiochus — or more prob- 
ably his priests — chose to represent the moon by Commagene, it is 
suggested, 89 so that this figure could stand generally for all female 
divinities of the land — among them Kubaba and the "goddess of 
Argand". Further, the adjective "all-nourishing" of the land or 
earth (ge) of Commagene would have enabled Iranians to venerate 
through her their own bounteous yazata of the earth, Spenta 
Armaiti, who in their religious mythology likewise sits on the left 
hand of Ahura Mazda. 90 It is true that such verbal allusions would 
have appealed only to those of Antiochus' subjects who were 
hellenized; but the goddess* badge, set on her headdress and duly 
worn also by Antiochus in dexiosis with her, is the pomegranate, 
a symbol of fertility which was thoroughly familiar to Zoroast- 
rians and much used in their rituals. 91 Presumably the priests of 
Nimrud Dagh were ready moreover to expound to all who came 
there, Zoroastrians and others, every aspect of the king's new cult. 
They may well indeed have sought also to help worshippers of 
Tarhuis, now identified as Zeus Dolichenos, to see their own god in 
Antiochus' Zeus-Oromasdes, aiming in this way at uniting all the 
inhabitants of Commagene in veneration both of the king himself 
and of the "great gods" whom he had invited to dwell in their land. 
(That Antiochus' new cult had a political as well as a religious 
aspect, in so far as it tended to strengthen and exalt his own 
kingship in the face of menacing powers at his borders, is generally 
accepted.) An indication that there may have been a positive 
attempt to attract the worshippers of Dolichenos is that at Nimrud 
Dagh Zeus-Oromasdes has for his emblem a winged bundle of 
lightning flashes, set on his tiara, diadem and scabbard; 92 and this 
created a visual link with Tarhuis, who is regularly shown holding 
lightning flashes in his outstretched hand. Somewhat perplexingly, 

89 Puchstein in Humann-Puchslein, Reisen, 336; H. H, Schaeder, Urform des 
manichaischen Systems, 139. 

90 Cf. HZ II 93. Antiochus' "'Tyche of productivity" was identified as Spenta 
Armaiti by L. A. Campbell, Mithraic iconography and ideology, EPRO 11, 
Leiden 1968, 133. 

91 Young, o.c., p. 219; Merkelbach, Mithras, Abb. 6. On the pomegranate in 
Zoroastrian rituals and domestic observances see Modi, CO, 276-7; Boyce, 
Stronghold, index s.v. 

1)3 Young, I.e. 



Mithra bears this same emblem on diadem and necklace 93 ; but 
conceivably he as sun god, and the yaz&ta most beloved by Antio- 
chus* was being drawn visually into a double syncretism with the 
mighty Commagenian divinity, who is regularly portrayed with the 
sun-disk also. Lt is noteworthy that there is no indication that 
Antiochus sought to make the worship of his great tetrad exclusive 
rather than dominant. On the contrary, in the main inscription at 
Nimrud Dagh itself he deliberately invokes "all the family gods of 
Persis and Macedon, and of the land of Commagene". 94 

The question of how far there was a true blending of Greek and 
Iranian elements in the divinities of his new cult will be considered 
later in this chapter. 95 It is plain, however, that in its general 
character this cult belonged essentially to the Hellenistic age, a 
grandiose development of the Seleucid ruler-cult made possible 
through the pseudo-science of astrology; and in it veneration — 
evidently sincere — of chosen ancient gods was linked with enor- 
mous pride in himself and his ancestry. 96 He revered, he declares, 
"the likenesses of the gods' forms", fashioned in detail according to 
ancient lore transmitted to him by "Persians and Hellenes — the 
most happy stock of my house"; 97 and he gave his vaunted geneal- 
ogy impressive visual form by flanking the east terrace with the two 
rows of stelae bearing portraits of that "heroic band' of his ances- 
tors to which he refers in the main inscription. On the north side 
(and facing therefore south, for Zoroastrians the auspicious direc- 
tion) were his Persian forbears, beginning with Darius the Great 
and coming down, through selected Achaemenians, to Araondes 
(= Orontes) and his more immediate predecessors. On the south 
were his Macedonian ancestors, beginning with Alexander (com- 
monly annexed to the Seleucids) and continuing through selected 
Seleucids to Antiochus VIII and his daughter Laodice. The 
Orontids 1 claim to such distinguished ancestry went on both sides 
through the distaff line, and several queens seem to have been 
portrayed on the stelae. 98 

93 Young, I.e. 

94 N 204-6. 

" Below, p. 345 ff. 

96 A close association of consecrated human beings with long-worshipped gods 
was general in the Hellenistic world, see Nock, art. cit. in n. 71, pp. 1-30; but in 
Antiochus' cult the human being was exceptionally exalted. 

97 N 27-32. 

98 The subject of each relief was named on the back of the stele; but the stone 
Used, as generally on Nimrud Dagh, was a soft sandstone, and though the reliefs 
have their counterparts on the west terrace (necessarily somewhat differently 
aligned}, both sets have suffered severe damage, and there are gaps in them. On 



As for the question of how much that was genuinely Iranian 
survived in the new cult, one significant point has generally been 
underrated. This is that it is laid down in the nomos> that is the law 
which was to regulate the new religion (and which takes up the 
major part of the main inscription) that when the high priest 
officiates at public ceremonies he is to wear "the Persian garments 
with which my favour and the ancestral tradition of our race have 
clothed the priests". 99 This has been dismissed as a superficial 
requirement, indeed as one whose triviality marked a certain 
slighting of the Iranian religion, reduced thus to the merely 
external 100 ; but in fact, in almost all cultures and epochs, clothes 
define the priest and show what religion he serves . I f for 
example — as can happen in England today — one sees a Buddhist 
monk by the altar of a Christian church) or a Jewish rabbi, or a 
Shinto priest, one does not for a moment suppose that these men, 
each distinguished by the garb appropriate to his own vocation, are 
performing acts of Christian worship, but recognizes that each is 
making his contribution to an inter- religious service, and is praying 
according to his own beliefs. Were it not so, they would not have 
worn their distinctive clothing. So it would have been in the past 
also: a magus declared himself by his garments. Hence if the priests 
of Antiochus' cult were clad as magi;, the immediate and general 
assumption would have been that they were solemnizing a Persian 
rite. It seems reasonable to deduce, therefore, that the priests who 
served Antiochus, and who evolved the basis for his new cult, were 
themselves hellenized magi, descendants presumably of hereditary 
family priests of the Orontids (who could probably have produced 
as long a sacerdotal lineage as Antiochus a noble one); and that by 
the requirement that the priests of his cult should always wear 
Persian dress the king was seeking to maintain the dominance of 
the Zoroastrian tradition. That the leading magi of Commagene 
should in the first century B.C. have spoken Greek is no cause for 
surprise, nor that they should have been adept in the astrological 
lore which, though Chaldean by origin, had long before this been 
acquired by members of their own professional body, to the point 
where magi were often characterized as astrologers. The deduction 

the reconstruction of the two royal lines see Doraer, "Zur Rekonstruktion der 
Ahnengalerie des Konigs Antiochos I von Kommagene", 1st. Mitt. 17, 1967, 
197-210 with Taf. 20-21; T. Fischer, "Zum Kult des Antiochos' 1 von Kom- 
magene fur seine seleulcidischen Ahnen", 1st. Mitt. 22, 1972, 141-4. 

^N 133-7. 

100 So first Puchstein in Humann-Puchstein, Reisen, 340 ("an insignificant 



that hellenized magi played the leading part in shaping Antiochus' 
astral religion does not of course exclude the likelihood that Hel- 
lenes, and other hellenized Asiatics at his court — philosophers, 
rhetors, jurists — contributed their share to drawing up the text of 
the great Nimrud Dagh inscription, which in its elaborate style and 
rhythms has been shown to be a good example of contemporary 
Greek rhetorie. 101 

The deduction leaves open, moreover, the question as to how 
much that was Zoroastrian persisted in the new cult, with its 
deliberate fusion of Irano-Greek elements. To continue with exter- 
nals, the earliest of the Iranian ancestors on the Nimrud Dagh 
stelae wear the Persian royal tiara with diadem; 102 and among the 
enthroned colossi two also wear this tiara with diadem, namely 
Zeus-Oromasdes and Apollo-Mithr a- Helios- Hermes. "Since they 
wear this tiara, they are manifestly thought of here as the Iranian 
gods Oromasdes (= Ahuramazda) and Mithra." 105 Later members 
of the line of Iranian ancestors wear the conical tiara, the headgear 
of the Commagenian Orontids Sames and Mithradates Kallinikos; 
and this tiara is worn by Antiochus himself as a colossus. (This is 
the only place where he is shown not wearing the "Armenian" tiara. 
Among the gods, perhaps, this symbol of power would have been 
felt to be unseemly.) The conical tiara is worn also by the enthroned 
Heracles, who like Oromasdes and Mithra appears here in Iranian 
dress, though still holding his club. It is striking that at this focal 
point in the Nimrud Dagh cult he too should be presented as an 
Iranian god, as "Artagnes" rather than Heracles. (It is only among 
the dexiosis reliefs below the colossi that he appears again in Greek 
guise, as the naked Heracles. 10 ' 1 ) The fact that he wears the tiara of 
the Commagenian kings marks the hero-god as less in dignity than 
Zeus-Oromasdes and Apollo-Mithra, even as the Orontids were 
less in dignity than the Achaemenian Great Kings; and this accords 
also with the position of Verethragna in Avestan mythology, where 
he attends on Mithra. 105 

Since, as it appears, the original invocation of the Mercury 
divinity was "Mithra-Helios- Apollo-Hermes", then both in this 
and in the invocation of the god of Mars the name of the Zoroas- 
trian yazata stood first when the cult was founded. As for the order 

101 J. Waldis, Sprache und Stil der grossen Inschrift vom Nemrud Dagh in 
Kommagene, Zurich 1920. 

102 Young, art. cit. in n. 14, p. 29. 

103 Young, ib., p. 30. 

1(H Humann-Puchstein, o.c, Taf. XXXIX.2; Waldmann, o.c., Taf. XXI.3. 
103 Cf. HZ I 62, 63. 



of names for the Jupiter divinity, this was presumably decided by 
the usage (which regularly affects the pairings of Iranian divine 
names) whereby a markedly shorter one is always placed first. The 
sculptures at Nimrud Dagh leave no doubt, however, that it was 
the concept of Ahura Mazda that nevertheless dominated in the 
syncretism "Zeus-Oromasdes". The hugest of the colossi, fittingly, 
is that representing the supreme god, whose throne, in the central 
position, juts forward from the general line. His majesty is further 
declared by the fact that in the dexiosis reliefs he alone is shown still 
enthroned, sceptre in his left hand, turning to give his right hand to 
the likewise besceptred mortal king. 106 As a colossus Zeus- 
Oromasdes has no sceptre, but instead his left hand, resting on his 
knee, holds a "short grooved bundle", interpreted from the first as 
being one of twigs, i.e. the baresman; 101 and this has been discovered 
to be true also of the enthroned Apollo-Mithra, and of Antiochus 
himself. 108 In his dexiosis-relief Apollo-Mithra (still, unlike 
Artagnes -Heracles, in Iranian costume) holds the baresman by its 
middle in his left hand, which is hanging down, whereas Antiochus, 
as in all these reliefs, has there his sceptre; 109 and among the 
Persian ancestor-reliefs the early Achaemenian kings hold each an 
empty offering bowl in the right hand, the baresman in the left, in the 
same manner as Apollo-Mithra in the dexiosis relief. 110 In each case 
it is the short baresman that is represented, 1 ll though later, under the 
Sasanians, a figure identified as Mithra is shown holding the long 
baresman in his right hand." 2 — It is well known that informer times 
Zoroastrian nobles as well as priests made use of the baresman 
during acts of worship 113 ; and the fact that Antiochus himself is 
shown carrying it in his representation as colossus undoubtedly 
indicates that the Zoroastrian element in the ritual of the new cult 
went beyond merely the garments of its priests. The great 

106 Humann-Puchstein, o.c, Taf. XXXIX.l; Waldmann, o.c, Taf. XXII.l; 
Cumont, TMMM.II 188 fig. ll. 

]D7 Humann-Puchstein, o.c, p. 255, cf. thesketch of the restored colossi, p. 328. 

108 Young in Doiner-Goell, Arsameia I, 217. 

,M Humann-Puchstein, o.c, Taf. XXXVIII.2; Waldmann. o.c, Taf. XXII. 3; 
Cumont, TMMM, II 188 fig. 10; Merkelbach, Mithras, Abb. 4. 

110 Humann-Puchstein, o.c, p. 324 with Taf. XXXVI. 1; Waldmann, o.c, Taf. 
XXIII; Merkelbach, Mithras, Abb. 11. For the representation with baresman and 
offering bowl cf. the figures on the Bunyan altar, above, p. 265. 

111 Cf. above, p. 265 n. 43. 

112 A. Christensen, L'Iran sous les Sassanides, 2nd ed., Copenhagen 19+4, 256 
with fig. 28, compares this relief with the Nimrud Dagh Apollo-Mithra dexiosis 

113 See M. Boyce and F. Kotwal, "Zoroastrian baj and dron II", BSOAS 
XXXIV, 1971, 298-302. 



Achaemenians — Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes — being also shown 
with baresman declares that Antiochus and his priests were con- 
scious of maintaining Persian religious tradition in this respect; and 
that Zeus-Oromasdes and Apollo-Mithra also hold it is a striking 
way of manifesting the dominant Zoroastrian element in the con- 
cept of these two divinities. 

In one version of the basic Zurvanite myth Zurvan, god of Time, 
bestows the baresman on his son, Ahura Mazda;" 4 and on other 
grounds several scholars have sought to interpret the Iranian 
element in Antiochus' cult as Zurvanite. Zurvanites, it appears 
from a variety of sources, worshipped their godhead as a tetrad, 115 
venerated in its most abstract form as God, Light, Power and 
Wisdom; and it was this theological concept, it has been suggested, 
which lay behind the evolution of Antiochus' tetradic cult, with 
Zeus-Oromasdes representing God, Apollo-Mithra-Helios-Hermes 
his hypostatized Light, Artagnes-Heracles-Ares his Power, and 
Gommagene, as the divinized religion of the land, his Wisdom. 116 
Even without pressing these exact correspondences, one can readily 
suppose that Antiochus' priests would, if accustomed to believing 
in a divine tetrad, have the more easily given the astrological data 
of 7.7.62 a theological interpretation, creating thereby a partly new 
tetradic cult. 

There is, moreover, a striking passage in Antiochus' preamble to 
the nomoSy in which he says of his cult: "It is commanded to the 
generations of all men whom boundless time (chronos apeiros) shall, 
through its destiny for the life of each, set in later possession of this 
land, that they keep it inviolate". 117 Chronos apeiros, it has been 
pointed out, exactly renders Avestan Zurvan akarana; u& and Bound- 
less Time, represented here as an active and conscious force, has 
been duly identified as the Iranian god. 11B That the Zoroastrianism 

111 For the texts see Zaehner, Zurvan, 4-24/5, 426. 

!15 Cf. HZ II 236-7. 

116 SoSchaeder, Urform, 159. 

1,7 N 111-115 (excerpted by Zaehner, o.c, pp. 449-50). 

118 On this concept cf. HZ II 231 fl~. 

119 So Schaeder, o.c, pp. 139-^H). His interpretation was endorsed by Moulton, 
EZ, 107; Nyberg, Rel., 390; BCM I 67-8; O. von Wcsendonk, Das Weltbild der 
Iranicr, Munich 1933, 257; Christensen, o.c, p. 149; and Widengren, Rel. Irans, 
219. He and von Wesendonk went further, following H. Junker, Ober iranische 
Quellen der hellenistischen Aion-Vorstellung, Vortrage des Bib], Warburg 
1921-1922, 151, who songht to see a reference also to the Zoroastrian concept of 
limited time, zurvan i dagrand xwaddy, in Antiochus' wish, expressed in N 20, that 
his body might rest in its tomb "for countless generations" (ris ton apeiron aiona). A. 
D. Nock, "A vision of Mandulis Aion", HTR 27, 1934, 80-1, reasonably ob- 
jected, however, that the use in both contexts of the adj. apeiros (with, moreover, a 



ofCommagene should have been of the Zurvanite tendency accords 
with the evidence from neighbouring Cappadocia and Cilicia for 
the predominance there of this heterodoxy in Roman imperial 
times, a legacy presumably of the late Achaemenian age. It is also 
consonant with the fact that Zurvanism, which appears in its 
evolved form to have linked together concepts of time and fixed 
fate, is generally thought to have been developed by western magi, 
who assimilated to their Zoroastrian beliefs not only Semitic monis- 
tic ideas but also Chaldean astronomical lore. 120 

Despite the fact that, theologically, Zurvanite monism was radi- 
cally opposed to orthodox dualism, the human capacity for enter- 
taining conflicting ideas simultaneously seems to have brought it 
about that this heresy did little to undermine for its adherents the 
main body of Zoroastrian beliefs. Unfortunately the Nimrud Dagh 
inscription has little to say directly about beliefs; but there is one 
utterance in it which is considered to be orthodoxly Zoroastrian. 
This is Antiochus' statement that he has built this hierothesion near 
the heavenly throne so that the outer husk which is his body may 
rest there for countless ages, after it has sent his spirit (psyche), dear 
to the gods, up to the heavenly throne of Zeus-Oromasdes. 121 That 
this concept of the blessed soul's ascent to the throne of God is 
Zoroastrian, and not Greek, has been generally accepted; although, 
it has been pointed out, 122 Antiochus here speaks only of the 
separation of soul and body and does not look beyond this ; as a true 
Zoroastrian might be expected to do, to their reunion through the 
resurrection of the body at the Last Day. The king was concerned, 
however, with ensuring that his cult, his monument, and his 
kingdom should endure; and it is hardly likely therefore that in his 
graven words he would refer to the end of time, when all such 

different substantive) hardly bore out this interpretation. On these grounds 
Duchesne-Guillemin, Ormazd et Ahriman, 123-4, rejected a Zurvanite interpre- 
tation for either passage; but because Junler pressed the case too far is no good 
reason for rejecting it wholly. Subsequently Dorrie, Konigskult, 194-6, while 
conceding that Antiochus' priests were probably familiar with Zurvanite terminol- 
ogy, rejected the interpretation of chronos apeiros as a proper name on the grounds 
that chronos appears elsewhere in Antiochus' inscriptions as the common noun 
"time"; but in the Avesta zuman also appears both as a common noun and as the 
name of the divinity-, the context being the deciding factor (cf. HZ II 231, 237-9), 
so that this argument is without force. 

1M Cf above, p. 278, and further below, p. 34-8 n. 187. 

121 N 36-44. According to Vd. XIX.31, AVN XI.l, it is Vohu Manah who, 
rising from a golden throne, receives the soul at its entry into Paradise; but he then 
leads it on into the presence of Ahura Mazda himself, who is unquestionably also 

121 Nock, art. cit. inn. 71, p. 27. 





things will have reached their term, and Ahura Mazda alone will 

That Antiochus in fact believed in the Last Day can, however, be 
deduced from a passage which occurs towards the end of the long 
inscription which he had carved at Arsameia-on-the-Nymphaios. 123 
This, and a similar inscription at Gerger, are very largely identical 
with the mam one at Nimrud Dagh, and like it are much taken up 
with the nomas of the cult. That at Arsameia has, however, some 
additional matter, including the passage in question, which has 
long been recognized to be in a strikingly Zoroastrian vein, despite 
overtly Greek